In 1944, the U.S. Army built a hospital on the south side of Richmond to serve as the first stop for injured World War II soldiers returning home from England.
With more than three miles of corridors, a gym, movie theater, barber shop, post office, auditorium, and 38-foot long soda fountain bar, the facility was much more than a treatment center for wounded soldiers. It became a social center. The USO hosted various social events at the hospital, such as parties like the one shown right.
After the war, the Veteran’s Administration took over ownership and equipped the site as a civil defense disaster hospital, ready to serve the masses in the event of atomic war. Though large and well-equipped, the hospital had only been built to last ten years, so the VA eventually replaced the outdated complex in 1984, on the same site. When the new facility opened, it was the only hospital in the VA system to offer heart transplants. Over the ensuing decades, the hospital’s services have expanded to include occupational therapy, drug and alcohol abuse treatment, and an Alzheimer’s unit for veterans, as well as transitional housing for homeless vets. Today, thousands of Virginians count on the Central Virginia VA Health Care System for support and medical care.
V.85.37.4204 Photographer: Bill Lane, Richmond Times-Dispatch Collection, The Valentine