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E-mail from area resident Lisa Parsley
Reproduced with permission

Oppose any request for demolition by Toll Brothers of the fire-damaged Naval Asylum on Grays Ferry Ave., Philadelphia.

Supporters are working to publicize the unique historical attributes of the site that would be lost if the the structures were demolished. Please see photos, below.

We do not oppose the redevelopment of the property, as reported in the press, provided that Toll Brothers follow the guidelines that it agreed to that regulate historic structures in Philadelphia or else sell the property to someone who will make minimal efforts at stewardship.

We feel the stone structure is still in good shape as are the outbuildings. Structures in much worse condition with less historic importance have been preserved for commercial purposes. We are confident that Toll Brothers is ready to enter this mature phase of its own growth. Note this architectural drawing and notes about the building's construction, using cast iron columns for fire resistance:

Please see these striking images from our proud past, attached and below:

Images from history: Military and Civilian Medicine and Nursing in relation to the Naval Asylum:

From the photo album of J. Beatrice Bowman, of the Sacred Twenty, or the first official Naval Nurses. From a tour of duty at the Phildadelphia Naval Asylum:

Dr. Mic. Boland, US Naval Hospital:

Notice the men under the gazebo. This gazebo is still standing strong:

Nurse Bowman on the veranda, 1911:

Nurses in front of Greek Revival front, with Naval cannon:

Entrance to Naval Home, Out buildings, Naval Officers, 1913:

In 1911, the twenty original Navy nurses had grown to 86, and sub-specialties evolved in an effort to create efficiency, such as "operating room technic, dietetics, and x-ray technic" according to Captain Doris M. Sterner NC, USN, "In and Out of Harm's Way: A History of the Navy Nurse Corps."

These efforts saved countless lives and modernized the delivery of medicine. Military requirements of coping with high volume, limited resources, and rapidly advancing science created a health system that would become a recognizably modern hospital. These early efforts that shaped our nation at peace and at war.

The Naval Asylums and hospitals were critical in coping with the influenza epidemic and WWI. This ramp-up occured in a few short decades, and not a moment too soon.

Ed. Note: Additional photos are available at the Library of Congress American Memory website, -- enter the search term U.S. Naval Asylum Philadelphia



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