Congressional legislation appropriated $192,000 for the construction of Walter Reed General Hospital (WRGH, now known as "Building 1"), and the first ten patients were admitted on May 1, 1909. Lieutenant Colonel William Cline Borden was the initiator, planner and effective mover for the creation, location, and first Congressional support of the Medical Center. Due to his efforts, the facility was nicknamed "Borden's Dream."
In 1923, General John J. Pershing signed the War Department order creating the "Army Medical Center" (AMC) within the same campus as the WRGH. (At this time, the Army Medical School was relocated from 604 Louisiana Avenue and became the "Medical Department Professional Service School" (MDPSS) in the new Building 40.) Pershing lived at Walter Reed from 1944 until his death there July 15, 1948.
In September 1951, "General Order Number 8" combined the WRGH with the AMC, and the entire complex of 100 rose-brick Georgian Revival style buildings was at that time renamed the "Walter Reed Army Medical Center" (WRAMC). In June 1955, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) occupied the new Building 54 and, in November, what had been MDPSS was renamed the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR). 1964 saw the birth of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Nursing (WRAIN). Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower died at WRAMC on March 28, 1969.
Starting in 1972, a huge new WRAMC building (Building 2) was constructed and made ready for occupation by 1977. WRAIR moved from Building 40 to a large new facility on the WRAMC Forest Glen Annex in Maryland in 1999. Subsequently, Building 40 was slated for renovation under an enhanced use lease by a private developer.
In 2007, the University of Pennsylvania and WRAMC established a partnership whereby proton therapy technology would be available to treat United States military personnel and veterans in the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine's new Roberts Proton Therapy Center.
In February 2007, The Washington Post published a series of investigative articles outlining cases of alleged neglect (physical deterioration of housing quarters outside hospital grounds, bureaucratic nightmares, etc.) at WRAMC as reported by outpatient soldiers and their families. A scandal and media furor quickly developed resulting in the firing of the WRAMC commanding general Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, the resignation of Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey (reportedly at the request of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates), the forced resignation of Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, hospital commander from 2002 to 2004. Congressional committee hearings were called and numerous politicians weighed in on the matter including President George W. Bush, who had appointed Harvey, and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Several independent governmental investigations are ongoing and the controversy has spread to other military health facilities and the Department of Veterans Affairs health care system.
As part of a Base Realignment and Closure announcement on May 13, 2005, the Department of Defense proposed replacing Walter Reed Army Medical Center with a new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC); the new center would be on the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, seven miles (11 km) from WRAMC's current location in Washington, D.C. The proposal was part of a program to transform medical facilities into joint facilities, with staff including Army, Navy, and Air Force medical personnel.
On August 25, 2005, the BRAC Committee recommended passage of the plans for the WRNMMC. The transfer of services from the existing to the new facilities was gradual to allow for continuity of care for the thousands of service members, retirees, and family members that depended upon WRAMC. The end of operations at the WRAMC facility occurred on August 27, 2011. The Army says the cost of closing that hospital and consolidating it with Bethesda Naval Medical Center in suburban Maryland more than doubled to $2.6 billion since the plan was announced in 2005 by the Base Realignment and Closing Commission (BRAC). The medical center's Georgia Avenue campus was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015 and is now under redevelopment into three distinct projects.
Click here for the Walter Reed development plan and the SPCA's advocacy, planning and development efforts for the site.
Sources: Walter Reed Medical Center: Wikipedia.