Charity Hospital: "New Life for a Cultural Icon"

Posted on: September 12th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 10 Comments

RMJM Hillier, an internationally recognized architectural firm, produced a detailed four-minute video, “New Life for a Cultural Icon,” that outlines the history of Charity Hospital, and the feasibility of reusing it to provide high quality, 21st century medical care to residents of New Orleans. The results of RMJM Hillier’s assessment prove that ‘Big Charity’ possesses the infrastructure required to modernize this spectacular 1938 Art Deco Hospital.

This video features a brief history of the hospital, the proposed state-of-the-art improvements for the facility, and a specific vision of how this contemporary hospital would improve the quality of life for people in this unique city.

Richard Moe, President of The National Trust for Historic Preservation said, "this report confirms what we've long believed: Charity Hospital is a viable candidate for rehabilitation and reuse. By rehabbing Charity and preserving the 25 blocks of historic houses around it, New Orleans can get two things it desperately needs: top-quality medical facilities and livable in-town neighborhoods."

Emily Courtney, National trust for Historic Preservation

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10 Responses

  1. R. Timothy Courtney, MD

    September 13, 2008

    Having lived eight years through medical school and residency mostly within the confines of Charity Hospital, I can assure you that even in its current state of abandonment, “The Big Free” (as it was affectionately called by those who served there) is no more an empty building than a grand cathedral would be considered void if not one of the faithful were present.

    No doubt, if you were there now, you would hear this great building breathing, expanding, contacting, sighing; the echoes of all those lives, both rich and poor; most having only passed through and the many ending there.

    Whether or not Charity Hospital could ever be resurrected as the world renowned training healthcare institution that existed from 1939 until closure in 2005 in the wake of Katrina is doubtful. Healthcare delivery is forever changed in New Orleans. If Charity Hospital, the building, was located in any other American city of size, it would be cherished and preserved the architectural treasure it is.

    R. Timothy Courtney, MD
    LSU School of Medicine, New Orleans
    Charity Hospital, Internship and Residency
    1977-1984

  2. Johnny Palazzotto

    September 13, 2008

    Big Easy Free Charity is a Big part of the mystic, culture, spirit, from every perspective, of the City of New Orleans, The State of Louisiana and the Uinted States of America. Johnny R. Palazzotto, Preservationist

  3. Randall Courtney

    September 15, 2008

    The Charity Hospital in Dallas,TX. is called “Parland Hospital”. It is one of the wonders of Modern Health Care in a very complex environment. I know that Charity Hospital in New Orleans was one of these wonders. I know it should be preserved for Louisiana

  4. Mike Hays of Covington, La.

    September 18, 2008

    The old New Orleans Civic Center was razed for Harrah’s Casino. Not only did the city lose an architecturally significant building to an tacky monster, Harrah’s lost out because it subsequently had to fle for bankruptcy, due primarily to high reconstruction costs. I am concerned whether the city will lose out again because of the short-sightedness and gulibility of the mayor if and when a company claims it has to tear down the old building to make a project successful.
    Furthermore, I had recently spoken to a medical care worker who complained about how poorly constructed the more modern charity hospital was in Alexandria, where that person was recently evacuated. Rain water was seeping into the building. I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say that newer buildings are often more poorly constructed than the older ones.
    Dr. Courtney is correct about the changing nature of health care in the city. I’m not saying it has to be a hospital but it can and should be put to alternative uses.

  5. Ennufal Reddy

    September 18, 2008

    What a pity — that our politicians are for sale to the highest bidder and will sell the country down the drain for pennies. But we only dollars to bail out the super rich and of course, who would expect them to pay real taxes.

    Ridiculous. The solution is obviously political. Whatever.

  6. Charles Robert

    September 22, 2008

    All in all the govt. must make sure it ensure lives of people who facing these and to recostruct the imprtant things which can enable our children to know what happened before. also it should take these as serious issue and do not use as politically. remember that many people who lost their property, houses and their beloved one are our brother we suppose to care about them not late them live to the streets.

  7. Map All Demolition Permits Issued Post Gustav « jlp/ New Orleans

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  8. PreservationNation » Blog Archive » Notes from New Orleans: Preservation Advocates Barred from Charity Hospital Tour

    December 5, 2008

    […] HIllier, which had made its own extensive study of the Charity building. Released in August, the Hillier study was commissioned by the Foundation for Historical Louisiana at the direction of the state […]

  9. R Cannata

    May 27, 2009

    Charity should be renovated. It will cost less, take less time, preserve this gem, and not demolish the neighborhood.

    The LSU scheme is nothing more than an attempt to grab alot of resources LSU did not pay for, and to wreck the competition (chiefly Tulane).

    SAVE CHARITY!!

  10. Vatican Lokey

    May 27, 2009

    Charity Hospital is too great a part of the city to be lost. I’ve spent my fair share of time in Charity, and for all its problems, that building was constructed to last for centuries; ideal for a city that is supposed to treasure our lasting gifts throughout our history. All the old gal needs is what sounds to me like a much more cost-efficient solution to renovate and add-on. We can only hope that its possible for the added structures to be built as well as the original.
    LSU benefits LSU, but Charity benefits New Orleans as a whole. SAVE CHARITY HOSPITAL!