404 East 3rd Street | Architect: Unknown | Built: 1898 | Extant
The first home of St. Mary’s was in Lincoln Park, at Twentieth Avenue West and Third Street, where Benedictine sisters opened their hospital in 1888 due to the eruption of a typhoid epidemic. It moved to its building on East Third Street in 1898 — and it’s been expanding ever since.
The first addition was made in 1911, and a facility for X-rays was added the following year — the same year the St. Mary’s School of Nursing graduated its first class. (That school is now an apartment building, and today in Duluth students can learn nursing at the College of St. Scholastica, another Benedictine organization.) St. Mary’s doubled its patient capacity in 1922 when a six-story addition went up.
The 1950s saw further growth, first with a psychiatric unit in 1955 and again in 1957 when a nine-story wing was added. Many more buildings have since been added, including a towering parking ramp that was completed in 2006. The hospital’s campus now covers several city blocks, and that doesn’t include various clinics in Duluth, Superior, Hermantown, and the Iron Range.
St. Mary’s was certainly innovative in its early years. In the days when the timber industry reigned in northern Minnesota, long before medical insurance, St. Mary’s own Sister Amata sold those who worked the lumber camps “lumberjack hospital tickets” for seventy cents a month. The cards guaranteed the jacks— who performed dangerous work and weren’t always flush with money — medical care and a bed. It was one of the first plans of its kind in the nation.