Walter Reed General Hospital (former) Improvements – Washington DC


The Civil Works Administration (CWA) and its successor, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), both engaged in improvement projects at the old Walter Reed General Hospital (as it was then known).  The entire army medical complex, covering around 80 acres, was closed down in 2011 and Walter Reed Army Medical Center  (as it came to be known) moved out to Bethesda MD.    The former site has been repurposed as the Children’s National Hospital and a huge mixed commercial and residential development, The Parks at Walter Reed.

CWA crews painted buildings, planted trees, and helped build an elevator shaft at the center in the winter of 1933-34. WPA enrollees engaged in extensive landscaping, engineering, and construction efforts between 1935 and 1941.

As described on WPA project cards, relief crews were charged with a host of upkeep and improvement projects, such as: 

Exterior landscaping: “Plant and transplant trees and shrubbery and landscaping at Army Medical Center; excavating; grading, placing topsoil; fertilizing; sodding; seeding; planting trees and shrubs; and performing appurtenant and incidental work.”

Road and infrastructure work: “constructing roadways, sidewalks, steps, and curbs; installing steam conduit, electric power cable, and street lighting system. Improve main drive from Georgia Ave. to Hostess House and road from 14th Street and Alaska Ave. through grounds to southwest entrance…by removing present surface, placing new surface, and performing appurtenant work.”

Tennis courts: “Excavate, grade and drain grounds and build tennis courts at Army Medical Center”

Building maintenance: “Paint interior and exterior of main building at Army Medical Center; Renovate Quartermaster Building, Post Bakery, Medical Supply Buildings, Barracks and Quarters, and covered corridors at the Army Medical Center.”

Building upgrades: “…remodeling warehouse into intern’s quarters;… installing plumbing, heating, and electrical facilities; replacing pipe.” 

WPA project cards cannot always be relied on for assurance that the work was done and exactly where.  In this case, however, both the Washington Post and the WPA’s own journal, Work, confirmed that such projects were taking place at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

We do not know what, if any, of the New Deal work survives today, although most of the original buildings are still in place and included under the Walter Reed Army Medical Center National Historic District. 

Source notes

National Archives, Record Group 69, “Microfilmed Index to WPA Projects.”

National Archives, Record Group 69, WPA Microfilm, District of Columbia, Box 969.

“2,000 jobless here get work on PWA [sic] jobs,” Washington Post, November 30, 1935, p. 15

District of Columbia Works Progress Administration, “Army Medical Center Helped,” Work: A Journal of Progress, Vol. 1, No. 1, Sept. 1936, p. 22-23


Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on June 18, 2013.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Washington, DC

Coordinates: 38.97509, -77.03115

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