Thursday, January 15, 2009

Our historic VA hospital

Last night, I gave up, promising to finish this post today (Friday); now, after consulting The Google re: Whipple Barracks, I am overwhelmed with bits and pieces of historic information (something like 29,000 citations). They range from the Buffalo Soldiers once stationed in Prescott to census records to a wonderful article about Fiorello LaGuardia's father, who was bandmaster at Ft. Whipple with some great pictures. Here's where I was when I left off:

Do you chance to have a spare eighty-five hundred dollars? If so, you could become the owner of a rare old map of Ft. Whipple dating from 1883. Ft. Whipple, of course, was the original name of what is now called the Bob Stump Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, the other local hospital, located along Granite Creek just off SR 89.

Many area residents use the VA medical facilities and yet I hadn't seen the grounds of this major local institution in all the years I have lived here -- until I took the little PTA bus for the first time a couple of years ago. The bus is an important link for many aging vets who live in or around Prescott (including the homeless). For me, the bus was a platform for many of the pictures here.

The original site was called Fort Cienega, which makes sense -- it was built along what must have been a marshy area surrounding Granite Creek; the first buildings at the present location were erected in 1864 and the hospital in the 1880s. Look at a map and you'll see a curious parallelogram of land, most of which is now the Yavapai reservation; until the res was established in the 30s, that land had been part of Ft. Whipple.

Two views (above, below) of the domiciliaries. The hospital's web site explains that acute medical care consists of primary and secondary inpatient medicine and ambulatory care, which includes general medicine, ambulatory surgery, mental hygiene, and selected specialized outpatient clinics. Primary level ambulatory care and screening services are provided at the main hospital and five CBOC sites. Rehabilitative care consists of a rehabilitation medicine unit, an outpatient substance abuse treatment program, vocational rehabilitation/job training program and a very active outpatient rehabilitative therapy program. Long term care consists of a Community Living Center (CLC), a Geriatric Evaluation, and Management Program (GEM and Domiciliary). Dementia, Hospice and Respite are programs offered in the CLC. Domiciliary care is a residential rehabilitation program that provides short-term rehabilitative care and long-term maintenance for veterans who require minimal medical and mental health care. Rehabilitative Care is directed towards the development of skills necessary for return to community-based living.

A recent AzRepublic article stated that Ft. Whipple was declared obsolete in 1912, but then reactivated in 1918 to treat WW I veterans; it ceased being an Army installation in 1922.

Officer's row, as seen from the hilltop Prescott Resort -- a wonderful vantage point. These roomy Victorian houses were built around 1907, according to the Republic article which is primarily about the historic military museum, operated on the grounds jointly by the Sharlot Hall Museum and the hospital.

Here are two hilltop views, taken from a spot just off Arizona Street on a less wintry day, with thanks to my 12x zoom lens. Isn't that a bonnie location?

Reenactment Tomorrow (Saturday, 1/17/09): Living history interpreters will relive Arizona's military past. Enjoy "School of the Soldier", a time of training for those new to living history soldiering. The Fort Whipple Museum is in Building 11 on the VA campus off SR89. Enter the campus, bear left at the first stop sign. Continue a short distance to the first T intersection and turn left. The Museum is the yellow house with green trim. For further information contact Mick Woodcock at the Sharlot Hall Museum, 928-445-3122 ext. 17 (mick-at-sharlot-dot-org.) The reenactments are held monthly, so keep checking with the museum if you can't make it tomorrow.

Another Reenactor
: Buffalo Soldier reenactor Sgt. Maj. Bill McCurtis will be speaking at the Phippen Museum on Saturday, January 17 at 1:00pm along with Bonnie Freeman, the widow of Buffalo Soldier artist Ken Freeman.Sgt. Maj. Bill will be speaking on the history of the Buffalo Soldiers especially the men of the 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, the most decorated regiment in the history of the United States Army.This regiment was formed out of free African-Americans, many former slaves.


Antipodean Curmudgeon said...

I note the remnants of hierarical(sp) housing for the officer corps.


Linda G. said...

Lovely post GJ!

Granny J said...

bro -- very definitely; big roomy houses, at that. The LaGuardia article link will show you an inside view of one of the homes.

LindaG (formerly brain) -- you cheated; I hope I lived up to expectations.

Warren said...

Great series of pictures on Whipple! My mother worked out there as a nurse for many years.

Granny J said...

warren -- I am beginning to think that I am the odd man out when it comes to any experience with Whipple!

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