Fort Chaffee Hospital

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City/Town:
Location Class:
Year Built: 1941 | Year Abandoned: 2005
Historic Designation: National Register of Historic Places
Status: AbandonedBurned DownEndangeredGutted
Photojournalist: Michael SchwarzEddy SissonJames Kirkendall

chaffee_fire___t630

FORT SMITH — Fort Smith fire investigators say a blaze that destroyed more than 100 historic buildings at the old Fort Chaffee hospital has been ruled accidental.

Fire Marshal Chris Driggers told KFSM-TV that a probe of the fire doesn’t indicate it was intentionally set, and that discarded smoking materials were the likely cause.

The Aug. 3 fire charred 90 acres and consumed 110 unoccupied buildings at the former hospital, which was used by the U.S. Army when the post was an active military installation. No injuries were reported and no homes were in danger.

The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority owns the land where the fire occurred.

Executive Director Ivy Owen estimates a clean-up could cost about $600,000 to rid the environment of the asbestos and lead-laden debris.

Arkansas Online

The Hospital located at Fort Chaffee Arkansas, has been abandoned for many years. The medical complex at Fort Chaffee opened on December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor Day). The medical complex itself is an enormous site with 128 buildings all held together by long hallways. The complex has its own exchange and theater. It even had its own four lane bowling alley, not to mention being a 1,595 bed hospital.

Groundbreaking for what was then Camp Chaffee was held on September 20, 1941, as part of the Department of War’s preparations to double the size of the U.S. Army in the face of imminent war. That month, the United States government paid $1.35 million to acquire 15,163 acres from 712 property owners, including families, farms, businesses, churches, schools, and other government agencies. The camp was named after Major General Adna R. Chaffee Jr., an artillery officer who, in Europe during World War I, determined that the cavalry was outmoded and, unlike other cavalry officers, advocated for the use of tanks. It took only sixteen months to build the entire base. The first soldiers arrived on December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The installation was activated on March 27, 1942. From 1942 to 1946, the Sixth, Fourteenth, and Sixteenth Armored Divisions trained there. During World War II, it served as both a training camp and a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp. The major purpose of the camp was to train soldiers for combat and prepare units for deployment, but from 1942 to 1946, there were also 3,000 German POWs there. The creation of the camp caused the nearby town of Barling to experience a tremendous boom in housing and businesses.

Read More at Encyclopedia of Arkansas




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24 Comments
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Pat Goff
Pat Goff
3 months ago

My brother was born on Fort Chaffee at the hospital in the 60’s.

Bailey
Bailey
11 months ago

What was the address to this hospital?

Monroe Johnson
Monroe Johnson
1 year ago

Thank you for these pictures. My Dad was at Camp Chaffee and was injured in January 1944. He was in Ward C 15. These pictures helped me imagine how things were back then.

Monroe Johnson
Monroe Johnson
1 year ago

sorry about the repeat

Mork
Mork
3 years ago

nice

Pat Davis
Pat Davis
3 years ago

My sister was born there in 1956 and as a military dependent I "visited" the facility as well. The main thing I remember is the long narrow hallways that creaked when you walked down them.

Helen Reisinger
Helen Reisinger
Reply to  Pat Davis
1 year ago

I was born there May 1955. I'm in the SF Bay area right now but will be visiting next month.

Norm Robbins
Norm Robbins
3 years ago

I was born in that hospital in 1949. Sad to hear it burned down. Father stationed there.

JOHN THOMAS SMITH
JOHN THOMAS SMITH
3 years ago

I JOINED THE ARMY SEPT. 2, 1955, LEFT JACKSON, MISS. AND WENT TO CAMP CHAFFEE FOR SHOTS, ONLY
STAYED THERE A FEW WEEKS AND WENT ON TO FORT KNOX,KY. THEN OUR 3RD 105 HOZ. DIV WENT TO
BUTZBACH, GERMANY. LEFT THERE AUG. 1958. IF THERE IS ANYONE OUT THERE THAT WAS THERE AT THE
SAME TIME, I SURE WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH YOU. BEEN A LONG TIME. 870-297-2016
1483 CHESSMOND FERRY RD CALICO ROCK AR 72519

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4 years ago

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4 years ago

– ohh la la Mexican Fiesta indeed….loved that handbook, what is that, so funny, and really cool how you posted the vendor info on top, and oh so loved that make up lady red thingie… great shots! one lucky couple to have you guys

nextcloud.com
4 years ago

Well, full disclosure… I know Batiste personally. He’s an arrogant asshole, and the Army is a better place without him. Let’s just say it didn’t surprise me that he lashed back at the NCA when he wasn’t on the fast-track for a third star.A bitter little man he is.

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4 years ago

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Allen
Allen
4 years ago

Is there anyway to be able to get permission to film at this location?

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4 years ago

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4 years ago

I can not get irb in my SciTE windows version either. After adding the properties in post#7 step(1) — in the output window I continue to get the below:>ruby parse_fanuc_file.rbI pushed F5 and ran my ruby program!>Exit code: 0irb>irbSwitch to inspect moSweirb.batirb.batd.itch to inspect mode.Any suggestions? (Thank-you for the post, after a loooooong search for a lightweight editor I finally read your post. SciTE seems perfect. )

Michael Benge
Michael Benge
5 years ago

1500 bed hospital? Probably slipped a digit. I'd be surprised if it was more than 150 beds. This was "Camp" Chaffee till late in its service life with no permanent housing on base. It was elevated to Fort status and then considered expendable a short time later depending on politics. In the 50's hospital entertainment amounted to a couple of easy to beat pinball machines. In the sixties when Chaffee was used for summer reservists training Theater #2 was kept in good shape with snack bar open and screenings every night. The snack bar in at Theater #1 was sometimes… Read more »

Rich
Rich
5 years ago

I was stationed there from 1961 thru 1963. Never heard or story about ghost

Pat Goff
Pat Goff
Reply to  Rich
3 months ago

My dad was there from 62 to 64. He never told me about a ghost but he did tell me about one on his base in Germany.

Patricia Goff
Patricia Goff
5 years ago

I talked to my parents and they said they never heard of any ghost stories on the base when they were stationed there. Must be new ghosts. LOL

Darrin
Darrin
6 years ago

I did a short stint as a MP there years ago. On night shift we would walk around the old hospital, very spooky, but nothing out of the ordinary.

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