Of the many garrisons the army built in the Old Northwest after the War of 1812, Fort Crawford ranked among the most strategic, for it guarded the western end of the Fox-Wisconsin river passage, the vital link between the Upper Mississippi and the Great Lakes. Because the fort occupied a flood-prone site, it was replaced in 1829–1835. A hospital, built c. 1835, stood just outside the walls of the new stockade. The complex was mothballed in 1856, reoccupied during the Civil War, and then permanently abandoned in 1865.
By the early twentieth century, when the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) bought the site, only the hospital’s foundation and north wall remained. The WPA collaborated with the DAR in 1934 to reconstruct the hospital. One of the WPA’s programs was to rehabilitate or reconstruct historic buildings. Unfortunately, many of the buildings the agency supposedly preserved resembled the originals more in spirit than in fact. The Second Fort Crawford Military Hospital looks only faintly like its predecessor, and the long side of its L-shape runs parallel to the river rather than perpendicular as the original did. Nonetheless, the reconstruction conveys the hospital’s general appearance, one common for frontier army forts. A low-pitched hipped roof shelters the native stone walls, and a colonnaded porch runs underneath the wide eaves, fronting the long side of the ell. Simple architraves frame the doors and six-over-six windows. Today, the State Medical Society uses the building for a medical history museum.