Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fitzsimons Army Medical Center

Haunted History: Said to house angry spirits. Reports consist of spirits of military personal in the windows and doorways, many voices and foot steps in the main building while no one is there.

The Fitzsimons Army Hospital was a medical facility that was located on 577-acres in Aurora. The facility closed in 1999 and the grounds are currently being redeveloped for civilian use as the Anschutz Medical Campus and the Fitzsimons Life Science District.

The facility was founded by the United States Army during World War I arising from the need to treat the large number of casualties from chemical weapons in Europe. Denver's reputation as a prime location for the treatment of tuberculosis led local citizens to lobby the Army on behalf of Denver as the site for the new hospital. Army Hospital 21, as it was first called, was formally dedicated in the autumn of 1918 in Aurora, which at the time had a population of less than 1,000. In July 1920, the facility was formally renamed the Fitzsimons Army Hospital after Lt. William T. Fitzsimons, the first American medical officer killed in World War I seen below.

A new main building, known as Building 500, was built in 1941. At the time, it was the largest structure in Colorado. This is a 1940's postcard from the hospital:

This is what it looked like back in the 70's:

It was used very heavily during World War II to treat returning casualties and became one of the Army's premier medical training centers. In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower received treatment here three separate times for his heart condition while he was president and he stayed here for a few months when he has his heart attack.

See some cool stuff about his stay can be found here:

Presidential candidate John Kerry was also born here in 1943, while his father was receiving treatment for tuberculosis.

In July 1995, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended the closure of the facility. The closure was completed in 1999 and the remaining reserve center was relocated to the northeast portion of the site. The projected $5 billion redevelopment of the facility into civilian use currently includes the construction of the University of Colorado Hospital's $147 million Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion and the $509-million Children's Hospital.

Smokestack Demolishing in 2008:

Cool video showing the smokestack coming down:

This is what it looks like today:

Plans are underway for major improvements in this area as well as dozens of new upscale businesses including at least three hotels. One of which will be a Hyatt that will include at least 125 rooms.

It will probably look something like this:

The main entrance is and will continue to be located north on Ursula St. from Colfax Ave.


  1. In the 50's my Dad was here for TB. I sat out on a cement wall feeding squirrels that had no fear of humans. Does anyone know where that wall was? On what side of the hospital mite it still be ?

  2. There are raised retaining walls on both sides of the main entrance to the hospital. The left side (towards the mountains) is somewhat higher, and both would be easy to sit on when you were younger. Look at the left picture of Bldg 500 directly above. I do recall the squirrels, and they were little beggers and not afraid of people at all.

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    1. I would hope someone would edit this article to include the many Korean & Vietnam War patients who recuperated here.
      Richard Magner, CW2 Army Retired
      Fitz Patient Apr-69 through Jun-74.

  4. My first duty station when I joined the army in 1981. It was beautiful there.

  5. My first duty station when I joined the army in 1981. It was beautiful there.

  6. My first duty station when I joined the army in 1981. It was beautiful there.

  7. My first duty station when I joined the army in 1981. It was beautiful there.

  8. My husband spent two years here after coming back from Korea in the early 1950's being treated for TB. It was beautiful then and I would assume is the same today. I vividly remember looking west at the view of the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

  9. Researching my great grandmother, I found she was a patient here on Ward F2. I can't find any reference of what was housed on each unit. Does anyone have any references?