Mercy Hospital's First Building Built In 1888.
Formerly the home of Bay City's first mayor.
1905 History. (Added Feb., 2011)
History of Bay County, Michigan – Gansser 1905
MERCY HOSPITAL. _______
The stately structure standing on the corner 15th and Howard streets, is one of Bay City's best testimonials that its citizens, in the hurry and bustle of the complex life of the present day, have not forgotten that “sweet quality of mercy” which finds expression in tender, solicitous care for the weak, sick and helpless.
Mercy Hospital has its beginning five years ago, being established first in the old Nathan B. Bradleyprivate residence, on the present site. It is entirely under the management of the noble body of Christian woman known as the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Hilda being then, as now, the superior. Michigan from 1668 when Father Marquette, that great Catholic missionary, founded the first settlement, has been indebted to the same religious body for much of its educational and religious development as well as for the carrying on of some of its greatest charities. With the zeal which has always characterized the pioneers in establishing their schools and benevolent institutions, so presented the claims of the proposed hospital, to the business men of Bay City, that a fund of $7,500 was rapidly raised and the present property was purchased, so that when the hospital was opened, on September 26, 1900, it was entirely free from indebtedness.
In 1905 an annex was added to the original structure, a brick building, three stories and basement, making the accommodations larger and of more benefit to the public. Through private contributions and the interest taken in the work of the hospital by many citizens of various denominations, as well as the income derived from those patients able to remunerate generously for their care, the whole building has been thoroughly equipped with every modern convenience and appliance and is recognized as the leading private hospital in the city. Many of its 20 private rooms have been furnished by private individuals or societies. It is, however, just what its name implies, -- a refuge for the sick who have no means to procure medical attention. These are never turned away, but the good Sisters taken them in, shelter and cure them and let them pass out again healed in body and refreshed in spirit. The charity patients average about 10 a year, the accommodations being for 35 patients. The hospital has a private ambulance. Mercy Hospital keeps 10 nurses for its work and from its training school has graduated 12 nurses, making no charge for tuition. Another admirable department of its work is the finding of homes for waifs. These are placed where conditions promise that they will be carefully reared in Christian households.
While this hospital is under the care of the Sisters of Mercy, it has the fully sympathy and support of all the religious creeds of the city, for its work is entirely unsectarian and of so beneficent a character that its great usefulness can not be ranked too high.
1911 news. (Added Feb., 2011)
The Journal of the Michigan State Medical Society, Vol. 10, 1911.
A federal public health and marine hospital will be established at Bay City, Mich., by the Treasury Department, and Dr. W. Herrick, of that city, has been appointed physician in charge. For the present the hospital will be located in Mercy Hospital, but eventually a building will be erected by the government. The establishment of the hospital has been a matter of effort for over five years. The growing marine business has force the government to act.
With the proceeds of the last tag day, about $2,600, Mercy Hospital, Bay City, will complete the new wing, and have accommodations for about 100 patients.
1956 article. - Contributed by Alan Flood, Aug., 2005.
The Bay City Times - Sunday, September 30, 1956 (Page 28.)
First Mercy Hospital Building to be Razed.
LANDMARK SOON TO PASS.
A landmark of another era will fall to the wreckers’ hammer this fall.
The building which housed original Mercy hospital in 1899 will be razed to make way for a parking lot – and, eventually a major addition.
Erected in the 1880’s, the once imposing three-story structure began life as the showpiece mansion of Nathan B. Bradley, lumber & salt manufacturer, congressman, and the city’s first mayor.
In 1898, Bradley learned of the plans afoot for the Sisters of Mercy to open a hospital here. He offered the home for sale at the bargain price of $7,500.
* * *
BY SEPTEMBER 24, 1899, thanks to a successful fund raising campaign, the new Mercy hospital opened its doors. They have never closed since.
There was room for 20 patients in 1899, and the staff numbered six Mercy sisters from Big Rapids. It cost just over $8,600 to operate the hospital the first year.
More than 50 years and four large additions later, Mercy now has a bed capacity of 355, a staff of 14 sisters and some 470 other employees. Operating income for the current year will run close to $2,000,000.
FOUR MERCY sisters who lived and worked in the original hospital are still on the staff. The veteran nuns are Sr. Mary Ligouri, Sr. Mary Baptiste, Sr. Mary Constantia, and Sr. Mary Mercedes. Each has given more than 50 years of her life to the care of sick and needy.
They remember when Mercy in its first years, with its private horse-drawn ambulance. The building stood close by the big sawmills along the riverside – and not too far from the saloons lining Water street.
The top floor of the structure was condemned as a fire hazard in 1925.
By 1948, the entire building had been vacated of patients. The hospital chapel remained in use. Other sections were turned over for storage.
EXPLAINED SR. Mary Maurita, Mercy’s superintendent: “The removal of the original building is a first step in a long-range expansion program for Mercy hospital, and at the same time will give us immediate use of space for parking facilities.”
Sr. Mary Maurita admitted the building was a fire hazard, and that its removal would help lower Mercy’s insurance rates.
The original building will be razed as soon as a temporary chapel has been built in the addition built in 1904.
The 1904 building, too, is scheduled for eventual razing. It will be replaced by a new fireproof structure.
* * *
PLANS TO RAISE funds for the new expansion are now scheduled for sometime in 1958. Mercy hopes to raise approximately $1,200,000.
The hospital is still shouldering a debt of $1,893,000 from the $2,500,000 spent in 1948 to erect the fourth addition. This major expansion, along with additions in 1917 and 1911, were financed by the Mercy order without public subscriptions.
Despite the huge debt, Mercy is continuing to make improvements, aided in part by a recent Ford Foundation grant of $141,700.
A new freight elevator and extra storage rooms are the latest, and another new elevator is planned for the south wing. A complete psychiatric unit for 11 patients has been established on the second floor.
A new recovery room is planned, and operating room improvements will be completed soon as recommended by the medical staff.
The caption beneath the accompanying photo read:
"Old Makes Way For New – The original Mercy hospital, opened in 1899 will be torn down this fall to pave the way for the eventual erection of a new addition. The old building, reportedly put up in the 1880s, was the showplace mansion of Nathan B. Bradley before its purchase by the Sisters of Mercy. Inset photo, (not shown) Three of the first Mercy sisters to care for the sick in the original hospital are pictured looking at an early hospital report: (left to right) Sr. Mary Constantia, Sr. Mary Ligouri, and Sr. Mary Mercedes. Absent from the photo was another Mercy pioneer, still at the hospital, Sr. Mary Baptiste.
Related Pages & Notes
- Home of Nathan B. Bradley, Bay City's first mayor, that was converted into hospital by the Sisters of Mercy.
- The home was located on 14th street near the present Bradley Apartment complex which carries his name, and which was the former Mercy Hospital.