Mobile has served under six flags since its founding in 1702, where public health has been, and still continues to be, a huge component in the community. The Board of Health was established for the Mississippi Territory in 1816 under the United States flag, where their services have been uninterrupted since. Mobile’s Board of Health predates any other health department in Alabama by almost 100 years. Our main building was constructed in 1839 as a U.S. Public Health (Marine) Hospital.
By the 1900s, there were three boards of health functioning in the county: City of Mobile, County of Mobile and Citronelle. On January 1, 1919, one full-time health department was established for countywide services.
The first office of the Board of Health was housed at 119 Conti St. under a consolidation plan, and remained there until 1957. In July of 1957, the facility moved into a new monolithic structure located at 248 Cox St.
On December 1, 1974, the Mobile County Board of Health entered into a lease/purchase arrangement with the Sixth District Tuberculosis Association for the U.S. Marine Hospital located at 850 St. Anthony St. On October 23, 1975, the title and deed were duly transferred to the Board of Health, and at that time renovations began. Renovations of the hospital lasted until 1983, where the construction of a new addition to the central structure was completed. All of the services were moved to this new location during that year.
In 1984, the facility was rededicated as the Major General William C. Gorgas Clinic.
Maj. Gen. William Crawford Gorgas, Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George, is best known for his work in reducing the transmission of yellow fever and malaria by controlling the mosquitoes that carry them. Gorgas implemented far-reaching sanitary programs including the draining of ponds and swamps, fumigation, mosquito netting and public water systems. These measures were instrumental in facilitating the construction of the Panama Canal. Gorgas, the first of six children of Josiah Gorgas and Amelia Gayle Gorgas, was born in Toulminville, Alabama, on October 3, 1854, and died in London on July 3, 1920. He was a physician and the 22nd Surgeon General of the U.S. Army.
During 1984, the main entrance to the Major General William C. Gorgas Clinic was located at 251 North Bayou St. and is still located there to this day. On December 15, 1993, the facility was celebrated for being 150 years old.
The Bayou Street building is on the National Register for Historic Buildings, as it bears witness to its remarkable endurance and persistence, along with the services provided by the dedicated public health workers.