Adaptive Rehabilitation in Downtown Savannah: The Warren A. Candler Hospital

View of the south elevation of the 1876 hospital building as of 01 January 2013.
View of the south elevation of the 1819/1877 hospital building as of 01 January 2013.

With so many vacant and unused properties throughout downtown Savannah, it is nice to the transformation from vacant to vibrant in what is arguably one of the most captivating buildings in the city. The Warren A. Candler Hospital, or the Old Candler Hospital as it is commonly referred to, was the first hospital in Georgia. There has been a medical facility on this site since 1819, but the hospital had its earliest beginnings in 1804. The following timeline will provide a brief history of the hospital based on available information through my research. Some of these dates may be approximations but here is an overview:

1804: Established as a mariners’ hospital and poor house located at 23 St. Gall on Joachin Street, a private home in Yamacraw.

1808: Incorporated as The Savannah Poor House and Hospital Society.

1819: Hospital built at current site on Gaston Street for $30,000.

1835: The hospital is reincorporated as a private institution.

1863: During the War Between the States the hospital cares for Confederate soldiers.

1864: A stockade for Union prisoners is erected around the Candler Oak tree.

1864-1866: When Sherman arrives in Savannah in December 1864 the facility is taken over as a Union hospital.

1866: $4,000 is appropriated to reopen the institution after the war.

1871-1888: Location of Savannah Medical College.

1872: Renamed as Savannah Hospital with the main objective of treating illness.

1876-1877: Building is renovated to its present Italianate style appearance with the addition of two three-story wings, one on either side of the central block. A cupola was also added to the roof at this time.

1879: Savannah Hospital hires its first female night nurse.

1902: The city’s first nursing school is founded by Mary Ann Roberts and is located in the hospital.

1931: The Georgia Hospital Board of the Methodist Episcopal Church South acquires the property and renames it in honor of Bishop Warren A. Candler.

1936: Pediatric Department opens.

1941-1942: A three-story brick building at the east end of the main hospital building adds 40 more beds to the institution by way of a $100,000 Federal grant to expand the facility.

1955: A 77-bed International style four-story wing is added to the north side of the main building.

1960: Candler merges with the Telfair Hospital for Females (1886), the longest operating women’s hospital in the United States. It became Candler’s obstetrical unit.

1968: A Contemporary style three-story concrete frame building is erected as the Minis-Gilmer Diagnostic and Treatment Center.

1980: Candler Hospital moves to its present midtown location at Reynolds and DeRenne Streets.

2012-present: After a period of vacancy spanning three decades, Savannah Law School purchases the property and begins a multiphase rehabilitation project to open the school at the former hospital.

At its current state, the first two stories of the 1955 building have been completely restored and are functioning as part of the law school, with the third and fourth floors restored but not yet in use. The next phase of the project involves restoration, rehabilitation and selective demolition in the original buiding. Next Friday, I am taking a tour of the site to see the building right before the next part of the project begins. I will post any relevant photos and information. Until then, here are some other photos I took of the exterior on New Year’s Day.

Candler2 Candler3 Candler4 Candler5







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