Old Naval Observatory

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Old Naval Observatory
US Naval Observatory (Washington, District of Columbia).jpg
Old Naval Observatory is located in Central Washington, D.C.
Old Naval Observatory
Old Naval Observatory is located in the District of Columbia
Old Naval Observatory
Old Naval Observatory is located in the US
Old Naval Observatory
Location 23rd Street and E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°53′42″N 77°03′05″W / 38.895103°N 77.051443°W / 38.895103; -77.051443Coordinates: 38°53′42″N 77°03′05″W / 38.895103°N 77.051443°W / 38.895103; -77.051443
Built 1844 (1844)
Architect James Gilliss
NRHP reference # 66000864
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL January 12, 1965[2]

The Old Naval Observatory is a historic site at 23rd and E Street in Northwest, Washington, D.C.. It is where the United States Naval Observatory was located from 1844 to 1893, when it moved to its present grounds. The original observatory building, built 1839-40, still stands, and is a designated National Historic Landmark.[2] The Washington meridian of 1850 passes through the Observatory. The property for many years housed the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, which moved out in 2012. The property has been taken over by the State Department.


The observatory operated from 1844 to 1893 when it was closed in favor of a new U.S. Naval Observatory facility on Massachusetts Avenue. The building and grounds were retained by the U.S. Navy, which first used it to house the Naval Museum of Hygiene from 1894 to 1902. Beginning in 1903, the Naval Medical Hospital was constructed on the grounds, and it remained in use until 1942, when hospital operations were transferred to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.[3] It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.[2][4]

The facility housed the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery until 2012.[5] The grounds and observatory are closed to the public. The entire Navy Hill is being transferred to the United States Department of State due to Base Realignment and Closure, and the Navy will be moving out. The Central Intelligence Agency's forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services was a tenant on the Hill during World War II, and the United States Public Health Service had a hospital there.

In 2014, the Department of State began expanding into the Navy Hill. A joint venture consisting of the architectural firms of Goody, Clancy and the Louis Berger Group won a $2.5 million contract in January 2014 to begin planning the renovation of the buildings on the 11.8-acre (4.8 ha) Navy Hill campus.[6]


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