A structure built nearly a century ago to train nurses is taking on a new purpose as the recently rehabilitated Woltman Family College Building at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego recently opened its doors for cancer support services for patients and families.
Built in 1926, the Italian Renaissance-style building was known as the Mercy College of Nursing, where more than 1,500 nurses were trained over the years. After the college closed in 1970, the building was used for various purposes until the San Diego Historical Resources Board designated it a historic site in 1999. Since then, it had stood mostly vacant before rehabilitation work started in 2020.
The building is renamed the Woltman Family College Building. The rehabilitation began with a detailed adaptive reuse plan to restore the building’s utility in a way that allows efficient contemporary use while preserving its significant historic features. Efforts focused on restoring existing building materials where possible and refabricating deteriorated elements to match original specifications as needed.
Today, the structure is home to cancer support services for patients receiving care at Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center locations, including Prebys Cancer Center located nearby on the Scripps Mercy San Diego campus. Services include patient navigation, pastoral counseling, family consultation, fitness classes, yoga, meditation, a patient resource library, a wig boutique and more.
The rehabilitated building also houses Scripps administrative departments, as well as temporary space for contractors and consultants while they work on the hospital’s ongoing master plan development.
The Woltman Family College Building is a four-story, reinforced-concrete structure with 42,000 square feet of space. The building’s exterior has pale peach-colored stucco walls, ornamental cast stone embellishments, wrought iron accent railings, wood-framed windows and mission clay tile roof.
A decorative concrete facade frames the building’s main entrance, which is accessible through a recessed space adorned with ceramic tile wall treatment, hand-painted tile trim and a terra cotta tile floor. Affixed directly above the original front doors is a historic sign announcing the building’s earlier function: Mercy College of Nursing.
Upon entering the building, visitors encounter a variety of distinctive design features. On the first floor just beyond the main entrance are three decorative fireplaces located in the former living room, library and study, which is now part of cancer support services. Each fireplace features original tiles created by Ernest Batchelder. Other interior building features that have been restored include French and single-panel doors with transom windows, arched corridor passageways, door and window casings, crown molding and built-in cabinetry.
Rehabilitation work also included modern upgrades to meet functional and regulatory requirements. This included installing plumbing, electrical, fire protection and heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. The building also incorporates several new features to ensure accessibility, including an exterior wheelchair lift, an interior elevator, interior ramps and accessible restroom facilities.
Scripps Mercy San Diego is in the early stages of master plan development that will involve construction of a new replacement hospital tower and support buildings. The new Prebys Cancer Center, a comprehensive outpatient facility, opened on the campus last fall.