Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Art History


Marta Gutman

Committee Members

Anne Valk

Claire Bishop

Abigail Van Slyck

Subject Categories

American Art and Architecture | Architectural History and Criticism | Women's History


adaptive reuse, reform, health care


“A Municipal Modernity” is the first study to analyze the architectural history of the district health centers in New York City that women reformers and their allies founded to address poor health in working-class communities. It reveals that women’s philanthropic adaptive re-use was foundational to the architecture of the public health care in New York and led to a program of municipal district health centers. Philanthropic reformers adapted buildings in the 1910s and 1920s to provide affordable health care for low-income women and children in European immigrant and Black neighborhoods. During the New Deal, municipal officials followed the example set by reformers and constructed purpose-built modern district health centers with federal funds. The dissertation explores how these centers radically expanded working-class access to public health care and how working-class families experienced these health centers. It also analyzes how the siting, design, and use of these spaces was shaped by racial discrimination and the prevailing racial segregation of the city.

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