The Pine Building at Pennsylvania Hospital
The Birthplace of Medicine in America

In addition to our core mission of providing the best patient care possible over its long history, Pennsylvania Hospital has also become the keeper of priceless cultural and architectural artifacts that preserve and illuminate our shared national heritage.  Most of these artifacts and historical records are contained within the Pine Building, the original edifice of America’s First Hospital.

The Pine Building represents the birthplace of medicine in our nation.  Constructed between 1754 and 1804, this building is an icon – a unique, important location on our own national historic landscape that imparts not only the story of the beginnings of medicine and scientific inquiry but also provides an account of the social and cultural forces that influenced its construction.  There is no other structure that rivals the Pine Building as the symbol of continuity, stability, and strength in our nation’s medical community.  Roger Moss, a prominent Philadelphia historian and preservationist, named the Pine Building as one of the three most significant buildings (along with Independence Hall and Christ Church) of its period in the Philadelphia area.  The building represents the inception of health care and medical education in our nation and was the first institution in the United States to treat the sick indigent and mentally ill populations.

In addition to its local importance, the Pine Building has been identified by the Secretary of Interior as possessing national significance and holds the standing of a National Historic Landmark.  This property is of exceptional value on a number of levels and appeals to a variety of audiences given its: architectural significance; close identification with important figures and periods in our national history; and status as the first and oldest hospital in the United States, with an unparalleled influence in the history of medicine.  Scholars and students from across the globe use the library and archives of the hospital’s historic collections, and we are embarking on additional partnerships with museums and cultural institutions to share its priceless relics.  In recognition of the Pine Building’s national significance, Save America’s Treasures presented its second highest award in 2007 to Pennsylvania Hospital.

In 2007, Pennsylvania Hospital commissioned an architectural/engineering assessment of the existing conditions of the Pine Building and this preservation assessment tool prioritized the preservation issues in order of magnitude, detailing a two-phase restoration plan.  Phase I of the preservation work was completed successfully in December 2009.  Phase II of the restoration plan calls for full replacement of the Pine Building’s slate roof, and has been broken down into multiple sub-stages.  The first stage of Phase II was completed in November 2011 with replacement of the slate roof on the East and West wings of the Pine Building.  Pennsylvania Hospital is seeking funding for the next stage of Phase II of preservation work, a $2.2 million undertaking to commence in the summer of 2015.  This stage will primarily focus on the full completion of the slate roof; the painting of our Surgical Amphitheater; a cultural landscape assessment; and several additional miscellaneous repairs.  This project will continue throughout the year contingent on the generous funding of our individual and organizational donor population.