Renwick Ruin

The Renwick Ruin on Manhattan’s Roosevelt Island, also known as the Smallpox Hospital, is located on the southern tip of the island, which was called Blackwell’s Island when the structure was built between 1854 and 1856.

The Gothic Revival structure was originally constructed for treatment of the “loathsome malady,” smallpox, and for many years it was New York City’s only such institution. The hospital was designed by famed architect James Renwick Jr., who was also responsible for St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Grace Church.

It is now a picturesque ruin, one that could readily serve as the setting for a 19th-century “Gothic” romance. (Landmarks Preservation Commission)

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The hospital was designed by famed architect James Renwick, who was also responsible for St. Patrick's Cathedral and Grace Church. (Gordon Donovan)

The hospital was designed by famed architect James Renwick, who was also responsible for St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Grace Church. (Gordon Donovan)


Portions of the roof and walls are just piles of rubble after years of exposure to the elements. (Gordon Donovan)

Portions of the roof and walls are just piles of rubble after years of exposure to the elements. (Gordon Donovan)

Vegetation has taken over the interior of the premises. (Gordon Donovan)

Vegetation has taken over the interior of the premises. (Gordon Donovan)


The stairwell was cleared out to keep tresspassers off the falling roof of the building. (Gordon Donovan)

The stairwell was cleared out to keep tresspassers off the falling roof of the building. (Gordon Donovan)

The steel doors to the second floor of the  smallpox hospital. I am standing on the rubble of the passageway to the other building that collapsed. (Gordon Donovan)

The steel doors to the second floor of the smallpox hospital. I am standing on the rubble of the passageway to the other building that collapsed. (Gordon Donovan)




A wooden door is prompted in an open portion of a collapsing wall. (Gordon Donovan)

A wooden door is prompted in an open portion of a collapsing wall. (Gordon Donovan)

The walls of one of the inner wings of the Renwick Ruin. The Smallpox Hospital accommodated one hundred patients with charity cases in wards on the lower floors and a series of private rooms a the upper stories for paying patients. (Gordon Donovan)

The walls of one of the inner wings of the Renwick Ruin. The Smallpox Hospital accommodated one hundred patients with charity cases in wards on the lower floors and a series of private rooms a the upper stories for paying patients. (Gordon Donovan)



In the 1880's a new smallpox hospital was built on North Brother Island off the Bronx, and the old hospital was to be used by the New York City Training School for Nurses to support the giant City Hospital, since demolished but originally just north of the Smallpox Hospital. (Gordon Donovan)

In the 1880’s a new smallpox hospital was built on North Brother Island off the Bronx, and the old hospital was to be used by the New York City Training School for Nurses to support the giant City Hospital, since demolished but originally just north of the Smallpox Hospital. (Gordon Donovan)

Piles of debris from the falling roof and walls block the passage way in side the Smallpox Hospital. (Gordon Donovan)

Piles of debris from the falling roof and walls block the passage way in side the Smallpox Hospital. (Gordon Donovan)



A scaffolding from an old attempted repair sits wasting away in the summer sun. (Gordon Donovan)

A scaffolding from an old attempted repair sits wasting away in the summer sun. (Gordon Donovan)

A portion of the structure's façade collapsed in 2007 after years of neglect and exposure to the elements. (Gordon Donovan)

A portion of the structure’s façade collapsed in 2007 after years of neglect and exposure to the elements. (Gordon Donovan)

The building was eventually abandoned in the 1950s. (Gordon Donovan)

The building was eventually abandoned in the 1950s. (Gordon Donovan)



The stone used for the building, Fordham Gneiss, was quarried by convicts on the island and excavated from the area around the present-day subway station. (Gordon Donovan)

The stone used for the building, Fordham Gneiss, was quarried by convicts on the island and excavated from the area around the present-day subway station. (Gordon Donovan)



The brick walls don't look study without support beams. (Gordon Donovan)

The brick walls don’t look study without support beams. (Gordon Donovan)

Rusting steel doors leading to a courtyard. (Gordon Donovan)

Rusting steel doors leading to a courtyard. (Gordon Donovan)



Walls in between wings are collapsing and eerie. (Gordon Donovan)

Walls in between wings are collapsing and eerie. (Gordon Donovan)

Walls in between wings are collapsing and eerie. (Gordon Donovan)

Walls in between wings are collapsing and eerie. (Gordon Donovan)



The interior of the Renwick Ruin is overgrown with vegetation. (Gordon Donovan)

The interior of the Renwick Ruin is overgrown with vegetation. (Gordon Donovan)

The interior of the Renwick Ruin on Roosevelt Island. (Gordon Donovan)

The interior of the Renwick Ruin on Roosevelt Island. (Gordon Donovan)



The deteriorating exterior of the Renwick Ruin on Roosevelt Island. (Gordon Donovan)

The deteriorating exterior of the Renwick Ruin on Roosevelt Island. (Gordon Donovan)

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