St. Mary’s Hospital (1888)

The 1888 St. Mary’s Hospital. (Image: Duluth Public Library)

2002 West 3rd Street | Architect: Father Gregory | Built: 1888 | Lost: 1958

Monks from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville built this structure next to St. Clement’s Catholic Church in the West End intending to use it as a boys’ school and seminary. When that plan did not materialize, they rented the building to Benedictine nuns who used the handsome four-story brick building with arched windows and a Mansard roof for a hospital they named St. Mary’s (right, date unknown). The hospital opened with one hundred beds but no running water or electricity. St. Scholastica’s Mother Alexia Kerst and six other nuns, along with surgeon Dr. William H. Magie, comprised the hospital’s staff.

St. Mary’s was innovative in its early years, 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.” The cards cost seventy cents a month and guaranteed the jacks — who performed dangerous work and were rarely flush with money — medical care and a bed. It was one of the first plans of its kind in the nation and helped the young hospital stay financially afloat. (The program ended in 1913 with Minnesota’s Workman Compensation law.)