When Building 1 was opened on March 16, 1933, it was not merely the location of the canteen, but the Main Hospital building itself. As one of the first major buildings (along with living quarters, the Men’s Domiciliary [what is now Building 2], and the laundry building [Building 13], it was designed on the Churrigueresque Mediterranean Revival style adopted for the original buildings.
The most notable part of the building is the front façade, which emulates the tall, imposing altarpieces used in cathedrals during the Baroque period, especially in Spain and Spanish America. Upon close inspection, it's interesting to note the use of different columns on each tier. The highest tier incorporates elaborate Corinthian spiral columns, inspired by the Solomonic columns, thought to be "sources of religious and scientific insight" from their use in Biblical times and their renewal in Baroque cathedral architecture. The second tier uses Corinthian pilasters (seen also bordering the window above the façade), also a frequent sight in Baroque architecture. And the lowest tier's columns are heavily ornamented with the repeating design of a vase in peach, green, and blue. This is particularly indicative of the Churrigueresque inspiration, as Churrigueresque was known for its excessive ornamentation, often bordering on horror vacui.
Interesting ornamentation and symbolism is weaved throughout Building 1. Above the highest windows of the façade is a mantelpiece-inspired design of three sculptures of men. These three men are representations of the three branches of the military at the time of the building’s construction: the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps.
Underneath many of the windows there are bas-relief depictions of a diving bell surrounded by flowers in blue, peach, green, and red. These are thought to be references to the divers of the Tarpon Springs sponge industry. Although the commercial sponge industry had been founded there in 1890, it is likely that during the building’s construction in the Great Depression, many sponge divers traveled to Seminole Point to work on the construction. More information on the architecture of this and other buildings.
Upon the construction of Building 22 in 1939, a connecting corridor, which remains today, was built. Building 1 remained the Main Hospital at Bay Pines until June 29, 1983, when patients were moved from Building 1 to the replacement hospital (Building 100) in a well-coordinated move taking less than two hours.
As part of the 1976 appropriations, a $19 million restoration for Buildings 1 and 22 was completed in July 1987 by the Smith Korach Hayet Haynie Partnership. The restoration involved repairing terra cotta tiles, re-glazing existing ornamental paint work, cleaning brickwork, and completely redoing the barrel-tile roofs. The first-floor lobby of Building 1 retained its wood trim and the tile was restored and sealed.
Building 2 was completed with Building 1 in 1933, then as the Men’s domiciliary. This initial domiciliary could hold 350 members and housed solariums and wide porches, but even then there were plans for an expanded domiciliary. By the time the Main Hospital’s first patient, Charles Boone, State Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and of Miami, was admitted on March 19, 1933, the Domiciliary had 17 members. The first member was Pat Corr of St. Petersburg, who was a volunteer soldier in World War I. In 1940, an additional domiciliary building was constructed, Building 36, increasing the number of beds to 400, along with a Domiciliary Dining Hall and Kitchen and corridors to connect them.
The architecture of Building 2 is done in the same style as Building 1: Mediterranean Revival. This is observable in its red, barrel-tiled roof and tan walls. Worth noting on the entrance to Building 2 are two low relief sculptures in tan and blue of a boyish figure. Although impossible to confirm, it is likely a depiction of Gabriel the Archangel, considered in the Catholic canon the Patron Saint of Communications Workers, who is frequently depicted as having a youthful, feminine appearance.
With the 1976 appropriations, an entirely new domiciliary, Building 102 A, C, and D, was constructed, beginning in 1979. The new complex (still in use today), when constructed, held over a hundred fewer beds than the original domiciliary, forcing many veterans to enter transitional programs to leave the domiciliary. After the new domiciliary was completed, Building 2 became the location for the mental health clinic and library, but now serves as an administrative building.
Building 11 was confirmed as completed in January 1933. Designed as a garage and storehouse, it also doubled as the Soldiers' Home's on-site rail station, as a spur track was commissioned to run from the Seaboard Air Line Railroad Bay Pines station at 100th Avenue to Building 11, east of 95th Avenue. Although the spur track was removed in 1967, Building 11 remains, now a complex combined with Buildings 11A and 54. These buildings now house the VA Police Station.
Although not one of the original buildings, Building 20 remains one of the most iconic buildings for Bay Pines, due to its tower, which has been used in logos and letterhead throughout Bay Pines' history. The building was completed in 1935 as the Recreation Hall, including a library, auditorium and projection room, card room, and postal exchange. The post office remains in Building 20 to this day, but most of the Recreational facilities have been relocated and replaced with offices.
One of the entrances to Building 20 heavily incorporates Moorish designs, which served as inspiration for the Spanish Baroque—particularly in the archway surrounding the door and the geometric mosaics. The use of shells embedded in the arch was also a frequently used detail of the Churrigueresque style.
Construction of Building 23 began November 10, 1975 as a Clinical Support Building. Upon opening on June 13, 1977, it included Dental Services, Nuclear medicine, an Orthotics laboratory, the Medical Library and an Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic. The first patient was James Terry of St. Petersburg in the Orthotics Laboratory on opening day. The official dedication, however, was not held until June 24, 1977. After the construction of Building 100, the replacement hospital, all services except the Dental Clinic and Orthotics Laboratory, both of which remain in the building today, were moved into the new hospital.
In 1938, Building 24 was completed as the first 50-bed Women’s Domiciliary at Bay Pines, but it now houses administrative offices, including Quality Systems Service. The entrance to Building 24 is simplified in comparison to Building 1, but continues to use floral designs and columns in the façade. Additionally, above the window, there is a sculpted head of a man screaming in pain. This is likely a depiction of either Jesus Christ or Saint Peter, who were both crucified.
When first constructed in 1930’s, Building 35 was used for the person fire department of the Soldiers' Home, due to its remote location. Bay Pines retained its own fire department until early 1980, when services were instead contracted out to the Seminole fire department in order to save money and also due to a lack of equipment at Bay Pines that would be able to handle a multi-story fire in the new replacement hospital. After the end of the department, Building 35 was almost destroyed by the VA, along with the old female domiciliary (Building 24), but both buildings were ultimately preserved. Building 35 is now used by the Bay Pines in-house construction crew.
Building 37 was originally constructed in 1939 as an additional Domiciliary Section, connected with the existing section and the Domiciliary dining area. In 1960, as a need for hospital beds became more urgent and construction of a replacement hospital at Bay Pines seemed far off, Building 37 was converted an additional 160 hospital beds, particularly for extended care and a psychiatric ward, at a cost of only $245,000. In early 1980, with the construction of the new hospital, Building 37 was slated for destruction until it was decided that more psychiatric beds were still necessary. Today, Building 37 serves as an administrative building.
Constructed during the same decade as the original buildings, Building 37 incorporates a similar decorative style, but primarily with the colors red and blue. Bordering an entrance, one can see two of the Corinthian spiral columns with similar references to Solomonic columns.
Construction of the original Nursing Home Care Unit, Building 71, began in June 1971. This building held 120 beds and was the first stand-alone nursing home unit at a VA Medical Center. The design, being the "first of its kind" was duplicated soon after at similar homes in Alabama and California. It opened on April 16, 1973 to its first residents - Harry Chaloner and Fred Rudbert. Prior to construction, the land was extensively excavated by the Suncoast Archaeological Society of St. Petersburg, who discovered ten human skeletons and numerous other artifacts.
The additional wing (Building 101) was incorporated into the $110 million appropriation from 1976. It was constructed in the same style as Building 71, with a wing connecting both buildings. The addition added an additional 120 beds and opened November 1980. Both buildings are still in use as the Nursing Home Care Unit today.
After World War II, which dramatically increased the need for beds, the regional offices were moved to the Don Ce-Sar and Quonset-type temporary buildings were placed on site to increase available building space for patients. Quonset huts housed administrative offices, a brace shop, canteen, chapel, and library. The Quonset huts were finally removed with the expansion between 1978 and 1983.
Construction on the Main Hospital Building began in October 1978 and was dedicated March 16, 1983. The $110 million hospital included 340 medical beds, 30 rehabilitation beds, 150 surgery beds, 150 psychiatry beds, 9 operating rooms (up from 4), and 54 examining rooms (up from 27). The new hospital also incorporated new technologies for the time. The five-story hospital incorporated heat-exchange and solar power. When the building was completed, services from several other buildings were incorporated into Building 100. Nearly all of the services from Building 23, for example, were moved to Building 100, including the Medical library, Nuclear medicine, and an Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic.
After moving from Bay Pines in 1945, then from the Don Ce-Sar in 1967, the VA Regional Office returned to Bay Pines in a new building, Building 46, in September 1998. This move made Bay Pines one of the only VA locations with a regional office, hospital, and cemetery all on the same site. The new building cost $24-million to build with an initial 3 stories and 125,000 square feet. In 2007, a 32,000 square feet addition was built for file storage and is now the largest regional VA office.
Dedicated on March 21, 2011, Building 107 houses the new Radiation Therapy Unit at Bay Pines. The unit offers comprehensive cancer care for prostate, breast, head/neck, and lung cancers, which previous required community care at an average cost of $11,764 per patient.
New Mental Health Facility - On June 2, 2011 the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded a $91.9 million contract to Archer Wester/Demaria JV II of Chicago for the construction of a 156,000 square-foot addition to the main hospital building. It will incorporate residential rehabilitation, acute inpatient mental health services, and outpatient mental health services.
Eye Treatment and Ambulatory Surgery Center - On February 5, 2010 ground was broken on a new Eye Treatment and Ambulatory Surgery Center, which will be connected to the northeast side of the hospital. The facility will consist of services already offered at Bay Pines, but in a more convenient, consolidated location.
The Fort Myers VA Outpatient Clinic, the first in this system, opened on November 5, 1979 on Carrell Road, initially under the direction of James A. Haley VA in Tampa. At the time it offered Pharmacy, Lab, Social Work, Radiology, and Mental Health Services.
In 1998 the Clinic moved to its location on Winkler road. By this time Fort Myers had already become a critical part of the Bay Pines system in helping serve the highest percentage of World War II veterans in the country. After the move, the Fort Myers area was rapidly expanding, so the Clinic continued to expand into Community-Based Outpatient Clinics in Port Charlotte, Naples, and Sebring. All three are supervised by the Fort Myers Clinic.
A new facility, to be named Lee County VA Outpatient Clinic, for the Fort Myers OPC is currently under construction. It will be the first outpatient clinic in the Bay Pines system to be owned by the VA instead of leased. The ground-breaking ceremony was January 14, 2010 and is expected to open in Spring or Summer 2012.
The first St. Petersburg outpatient clinic was opened on 34th Street South in 1998. The lease of the facility involved an agreement between the VA and Pinellas County school district to train PTEC students and teacher in pharmacology, AIDS/HIV, medical ethics, and other areas.
The newest and current St. Petersburg location opened at 840 Dr. MLK Jr. Street N. on January 19, 2010. It was leased for three years with an annual cost of $196,000. The new facility also houses the Mental Health Intensive Care Management Program.
The new Palm Harbor Clinic opened on U.S. 19 by Alderman Road on December 14, 2009 with a seven-year lease at an annual cost of $162,000. It was nearly twice the size of the Dunedin location that it replaced.
The new Bradenton Clinic began serving patients on April 13, 2010 on State Road 64. The clinic is leased from Morgan Johnson Inc. and is 12,455 square feet. The facility consolidated services previously offered by Ellenton Primary Care and Bradenton Mental Health Clinic.