May 19: Three sisters arrive in Quincy
March: Excavations begin on 14th and Broadway site
May 5: Cornerstone laid
Oct. 25: Dedication ceremony
September: Hospital secures first surgeon
May: Adjacent lot purchased
March 3: St. Mary's Aid Society founded
Construction of first addition
Dec. 8: St. Mary receives its first ambulance
June 19: Hospital quarantined for smallpox outbreak
Spring: St. Mary purchases neighboring home and adjacent lot
Summer: Cement pavement and steps laid at hospital
September: Hospital receives its first X-ray machine
January: New convent dedicated
Hospital trades horse-drawn ambulance for first automobile ambulance
May 24: Hospital celebrates its Golden Jubilee -- 50th anniversary
Hospital under semi-quarantine as Spanish influenza epidemic spreads after World War I
October: Hospital staffs first pathological lab
Nov. 28: St. Joseph's Home for working girls dedicated
May: Adjoining property on Vermont Street purchased
Aug. 12: First class of nurses graduates from practical school
Feb. 10: New nurses home on Vermont dedicated
March 24: New maternity department opens for use
September: First class at recently-accredited School of Nursing begins
November: Pediatric department opens on fourth floor
Diamond Jubilee -- 75 years
August: Isolation department opened on fourth floor following outbreak of poliomyelitis
Dec. 31: 1,000th baby born at St. Mary Hospital
Sept. 12: School of Nursing celebrates Silver Jubilee
Feb. 23: St. Mary Hospital bought the White House, the property adjacent to the nurses home on Vermont
St. Mary opens several new departments, including physical therapy and the Recovery Room
Dec. 30: St. Mary purchases the property at 1431 Vermont
June 20: New hospital building dedicated
September: Demolition of old hospital
Dec. 27: St. Joseph's Hospital for the Chronically Ill and St. Mary Hospital merge under St. Mary name
St. Mary Hospital celebrates 100th anniversary
May 18: New Progressive Care Unit opens
Oct. 10: New Pulmonary Care Unit opens
St. Mary Hospital purchased by Blessing Hospital
Sister Superior Eusebia and Sisters Anna and Elizabeth of the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor based in Cincinnati, Ohio, arrived in Quincy in May 19, 1866. Their journey here followed several appeals by the Reverend Herman C. Schaefermeyer, pastor of St. Boniface Catholic Church and Vicar General of the Diocese of Alton, for help in ministering to the sick and poor of the community. The Sisters moved into a small cottage at 20th and Vine (now College) Streets, owned by the St. Aloysius Orphanage Society, and in October established a 12-bed, temporary hospital in the Bishop's residence at 8th and Vermont Streets. During December of that year they purchased a 180' x 180' tract of land at 14th and Broadway as the site of a future hospital with the help of a $1,000 grant from the Quincy City Council.
On October 25, 1867, the Sisters opened a 50-bed hospital on this site which they named St. Mary Hospital. Despite financial hardships the work of the Sisters grew, requiring acquisition of five additional plots of land for expansion. Substantial structural additions were made to the facility in 1877, 1900, 1962, 1973 and 1982.
The early years of St. Mary Hospital include many challenges requiring courage, ingenuity, determination and optimism. The Sisters themselves performed most of the work necessary to operate the Hospital including public solicitation for the food stuffs used to feed patients. The first gas light was not installed until 1875. Water had to be hand-pumped until 1882 and steam heat was not available until 1885.
With no endowment or outside source of resources, the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor relied heavily for their survival on the charity and good will of Quincy area residents. The St. Mary Hospital Society and the St. Mary Ambulance Society diligently pursued fundraising activities to meet the Hospital's needs, including the purchase of the City's first ambulance in 1898 for $475.
The opening of St. Joseph's Hall in 1929 provided a major leap forward in medical care with its modern maternity ward and surgical pavilion. At a ceremony attended by several thousand people, the new building was dedicated, “to the Mother of God and the mothers of men.” The Hospital's Superioress, Sister Amalia, described the building as, “a fit home for the mothers of men, where science and religion will throw around them every safeguard and every blessing.”
Explaining that the Quincy community would be better served with a single hospital and that their mission was no longer needed here, the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor Health System, Inc., sold the physical assets of St. Mary Hospital to neighboring Blessing Hospital on April 1, 1993. The facility was subsequently renamed Blessing Hospital at 14th Street to differentiate it from the preexisting Blessing campus, now known as Blessing Hospital at 11th Street.
The Heritage of St. Mary Hospital
For more than a century, the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor operated St. Mary Hospital on this site, and through it extended compassion and care to those in need. During their years in Quincy, the Sisters were supported in their Mission by thousands of employees, physicians, volunteers and friends who shared their concern for the sick and injured of the community. Blessing Hospital proudly honors the Franciscan Sisters of the Poor, St. Mary Hospital and its many employees and supporters for the vitally important role they played in Quincy's life and history from 1866 to 1993.