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Lazaretto, the oldest quarantine in America, to re-open in 2018

Preservation and restoration is about to begin

The Lazaretto in Philadelphia
The Lazaretto, America’s oldest surviving quarantine, is about to undergo a year-long restoration.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The oldest surviving quarantine in America, the Lazaretto, has sat abandoned right on the edge of the Philadelphia International Airport, slowly falling into disrepair while becoming a popular spot for ghost hunters. But by this time next year, it’ll be open again to the public after decades of decay.

Newsworks reports that, thanks to an agreement with Philadelphia over airport revenue that will bring in an estimated $1 million each year, Tinicum Township now has enough funds to begin preservation and restoration efforts at Lazaretto. The project, estimated to cost anywhere between $8 to $10 million, will serve as municipal offices and a museum.

The Lazaretto in 1936. The trellis has since been removed.
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1799—nearly a century before Ellis Island’s founding—the Lazaretto served as a stopping point for ships and boats during the Yellow Fever Epidemic. Passengers and cargo had to be inspected for the disease here before moving onto their next destination. After it stopped operations as a quarantine, it changed hands numerous times, serving as a flight base in the years leading up to World War I.

The Lazaretto served as a flight base leading up to WWI after its years as a quarantine.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Lazaretto was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972, though in later years it was almost demolished by a developer before preservationists stepped in to save it.

Now with funds in hand, Tinicum Township tells Newsworks that it plans to begin its lofty preservation and restoration project "any day now." If all goes to plan, it should re-open as municipal offices and a museum by January 2018.

Here’s a peek around the grounds and inside of the Lazaretto.