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History

Explore the rich heritage of our two main Pittsburgh campuses.

H.J. Heinz III campus

The older of the two Pittsburgh campuses, construction on H.J. Heinz campus’s first buildings began in June 1924. The first patient was admitted to the hospital on October 12, 1925, and by the late 1940s, the facility provided inpatient service to as many as 1,100 Veterans.

From 1925 until 1954, the H.J. Heinz III campus served as a general medical and surgery hospital and housed the first VA Allergy Clinic. In 1954, all general medical and surgical services moved to the just-opened University Drive Division. In 1964, in response to patients' changing needs, the Veterans Administration started a nursing home initiative at this campus to provide better care to aging Veterans.

After nearly 70 years of operation, the H.J. Heinz III campus underwent major renovations. A modernized hospital and two special-purpose buildings were combined to form a complete long-term care center. Patients were moved to the new hospital on November 5, 1994.

During a dedication ceremony held on March 22, 1999, the campus was renamed the H. John Heinz III Progressive Care Center, after the late U.S. Senator John Heinz. Senator Heinz recognized the importance of caring for our nation's Veterans — without his efforts and support, the modern long-term-care facility would not exist today.

University Drive campus

The history of the University Drive campus, which was designed and constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, dates to the mid-20th century. In June of 1946, VA purchased 14 acres of land from the University of Pittsburgh and local residents for $798,519. With land acquired, VA began planning the construction of a 1,200-bed tuberculosis hospital and, later, a 1,248-bed medical and surgical hospital.

Unfortunately, construction was delayed by VA officials' discovery of an abandoned mine shaft beneath the land. Before building could begin, extra foundation work needed to be done, which added to estimated construction costs. VA approved construction plans on April 4, 1949 and broke ground in October of 1950.

On September 12, 1954, VA held a dedication ceremony and formally opened the University Drive VA Hospital. As a result of the new facility's opening, the Oakland VA and the Aspinwall VA combined under one director, employing about 1,300 people and housing 742 operating beds.

VA officials and Veterans alike expressed enthusiasm for the modern new facility. A newspaper reported that the University Drive hospital's chief mechanical inspector, Louis J. Shriver, called this new facility the finest in the country — the "Most Modern in [the] World," according to the article's byline.

Learn more about the history of Veterans Affairs

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