A Place in Time spotlights a significant cultural resource - a district, site, building, structure or object - entered in the National Register of Historic Places.

Harrisburg Polyclinic Hospital is a sprawling former medical complex situated on a five and one-half acre parcel in a residential neighborhood north of the State Capitol. The centerpiece of the complex, consisting of three large interconnected buildings, is the original main hospital building, erected in 1925-1926. Designed by the Harrisburg architectural firm of Kast and Kelker­ – principals of which were Miller Kast (1873-1926) and Thomas W. Kelker (1886-1973) – in an early twentieth-cen­tury architectural style known as Federal Revival, the original hospital building represents the central core of the complex which was significantly expanded with both additions and new construction in 1945, 1949-1952, 1954-1955, and 1959.

The hospital was chartered in 1909 by a group of physicians and businessmen who realized that cities of similar and even smaller sizes, among them John­stown, Wilkes-Barre, and Lancaster, had at least two charitable or general hospi­tals. (Harrisburg Hospital was established in 1873.) They also understood that doc­tors were moving away from treating the sick and infirmed at home. Because of the increasing number of urban indigents and the growth in public support of charitable institutions, hospital care was becoming a community function, rather than a luxury reserved for those who could afford care.

Harrisburg Polyclinic Hospital was listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its importance as metropolitan Harrisburg’s second charitable medical fa­cility which grew through the leadership of the city’s business leaders and philan­thropists to provide comprehensive health care to residents of a rapidly expanding community, as well as suburbs and sur­rounding rural areas. It is an architecturally unified hospital complex that evolved from its original central building to a campus that has been pre­served through subsequent additions sympathetic to its original building’s appearance – a rarity in the evolution of health care facility development. The com­plex represents an early movement away from the nineteenth-century urban hospital to the carefully planned campus setting which has evolved into the modern medical center.

The complex, vacated by the hospital in 2003, will be rehabilitated using the federal Reha­bilitation Investment Tax Credit program ad­ministered in the Commonwealth by the Pennsylvania His­torical and Museum Commission’s Bureau for Historic Preservation. The main hospital building is being used for office space and the former Nurses’ Resi­dence and School Building, also designed by Kast and Kelker, will house Harrisburg Area Community College’s new nursing school.


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