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I'm happy to report that the Angel Island Immigration Station Hospital is on the mend. It has looked rather sickly in recent years as water has poured through the building from a leaky roof and busted gutters. Parts of the second floor have buckled and were substantially weakened. Over the past few months, work crews supervised by West Bay Builders and California State Parks managers have cleared out much of the hazardous materials, removed decades of debris, and most importantly shored up the foundation of the 101 year old building.
In the coming months, a new roof and new gutters will be installed. Painting the exterior and priming interior walls will also begin. The entire stabilization project should be completed in early 2012.
Along with the work to strengthen the structure, architects, historians, and AIISF in conjunction with California State Parks and the National Parks have begun making preliminary plans for the use of the hospital. On July 13, we gathered to develop a deeper understanding of the significance of the hospital and offer recommendations on how to best use a rehabilitated building to augment the visitors' experience at the Immigration Station. Professor Nayan Shah, an historian at U.C. San Diego and author of Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco Chinatown, and architect Daniel Quan opened the session with observations about how the hospital was utilized from 1910 to 1940 and identified key aspects public health policy that needed to be interpreted for today's visitors. Certainly, the racial segregation practiced at the hospital must be interpreted, so much so that the dual entrances and stairways - one for Asians and one for Caucasians - will be restored.
One ward will be restored to reflect the four separate wards that used to exist. The room that formerly held women and children patients is recommended to become a multi-purpose area designed for small group discussions and reflection on the various policies that governed the hospital. On the first floor, areas used for doctor's offices will be redesigned into a larger space suitable for public presentations such as lectures, small conferences, and performances. An area that served as the mess hall for the hospital will be refitted into a small cafe.
This is the Asian men's ward on the second floor, and it will be restored to show how patients of various nationalities were treated. This room also contains inscriptions and drawings by Asian patients.
The planning session gave Garavaglia Architecture, Inc. a good idea of how to proceed with drawing up more exact plans. Other recommendations included setting aside space for additional bathrooms, meeting rooms, and a small recording studio to capture visitors' impressions about the Immigration Station and remembrances of former immigrants. A full interpretive design and plan will need to be developed as well in the next year.
We are excited that this long-awaited project is moving along briskly. Stay tuned for periodic updates, and thank you again for your support.