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Evansville, Indiana
July 11, 1997     The Message
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July 11, 1997

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana July 11, @ ,t T ! In the mid 1800, the city of Evansville had a popu- lation of 30,000 but no hospital. The nearest facility was 120 miles away in Louisville, Ky. There was, however, a hospital building. In 1865, the government built a Marine Hospital on the banks of the Ohio River. Its purpose was to treat ailing river men. Because the facility was empty most of the time, the government decided to close it. Around 1872, Evansville business leaders pur- chased the facility and asked the Daughters of Char- ity to operate a community hospital. When the Daughters of Charity arrived in Evans- ville in July of 1872, they began cleaning and prepar- ing the old Marine Hospital for service. Even before its official opening, a stranger traveling upriver heard rumors of the hospital-and asked for medical care. The Sisters prepared a bed for the man in one of the renovated rooms, and then they sent for a doctor. He was the first patient at St. Mary's Hospital. In the early 1890s, the city of Evansville underwent rapid growth and industrial transformation. The neighborhood surrounding St. Mary's became a man- ufacturing district, complete with trains rumbling past many times a day. The Daughters felt the need for a finer, larger hos- pital, and they set about to get it. On August, 11, 1885, they purchased seven lots located at First Avenue and Columbia Street. Ground .... .: , was broken eight years later, and the hospital was openedFeb. 15, 1894. This second building offered many innovations never seen or heard of by Evansville residents. The lighting system in the main operating room was so effective than doctors could operate'as easily at night as in the day- time. Steam-powered elevators were installed, and a new chapel, seating 150, was built. A few months after opening, St. Mary's School of Nursing began accept- ing women for training. In 190, a new surgical pavilion was constructed, and in 1922, a four-story annex was built. The years during World War II posed increasing demands on the facility, and soon the hospital's administration and staff realized it was time for a change. Soon a search was underway for a new site, one with ample acreage away from the noise and congestion of down- town, and one that would provide a place of serenity, fresh air and easy access from all points in the tri-state area. The Daughters of Charity selected an 80acre tract on the city's east side between Lincoln and Washington avenues. On Oct. 23, 1950, more than 1,500 Catholic men and women assembled to hear that they were to set an example for a massive public campaign for fund- ing. Their goal was met within a month and the public campaign was off and running. Ground was broken for the third St. Mary's Hos- pital on May 17, 1953. Then the challenge began. On March 10, 1956, patients and equipment were moved from the old hospital across town to the Neighbor" took 100-minutes to move miles by ambulances, taxis and 110 trucks. All equipment was delivered an i  i  i: /:i i!ili iii !!!i!!ii:ii!i!:ii !i : ii !i / i i i z: ii i!i 'i ,