50 Dr. Tom Waddell Place
previously 50 Lech Walesa
previously 50 Ivy
In the alley, somewhat behind the Public Health Building that dominates the corner of Polk and Grove in San Francisco’s Civic Center is a small building that was once the Central Emergency and Detention Hospital.
According to the 1918 Municipal Record Volume 11 the building included a court room, and also housed the Social Services Department of the Public Health Department.
The architect is not known, although it was most likely a city architect. The contractor was Anderson and Ringrose, they were paid $78,140 for their work. Other work included J.W. Burtchell, lighting for $1575 and Burnham Plumbing for sanitizers at a cost of $3,575.
The building was opened by Mayor Ralph Jr, with an accompanying band on March 6, 1917 at 2:00 pm.
According to a SF Department of Public Health 1920 report The “Central Emergency hospital is maintained, which cares for all cases that require detention or restraint, and is also equipped to do any major surgery that may be brought there from one or the other ambulance stations when the case requires special attention.”
A 1924 Report from the Department of Health shows how the building was becoming outdated and over crowded. “We have to recommend that portion of the property extending from the Central Emergency Hospital to Van Ness Avenue as a fit and proper site for an institution adequate to house the activities of the present day and provide against the future when this city will have over a million population.
Our present quarters are damp, dark, overcrowded and unhealthy, and no other business or activity, excepting a Board of Health, would be permitted to occupy a building such as we are compelled to use.”
Today the center is called The Tom Waddell Health Center (or Clinic). It is still associated with the San Francisco Department of Public Health providing health care to mostly poor, disadvantaged, and homeless persons.