The Architecture of Healthcare: Mercy Hospital

April 15th, 2020

 

Mercy Hospital on the shore of Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida Date: 1930–1945

Mercy Hospital on the shore of Biscayne Bay, Miami, Florida
Date: 1930–1945.  From Digital Commonwealth – Massachusetts Collections Online.

Of all the styles of architecture out there, healthcare architecture has a very specific purpose: to take care of people. Learning From Miami presents a new blog series based on several South Florida hospitals. Our first stop on this historical tour is Mercy Hospital in Coconut Grove, near Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

After Vizcaya’s owner James Deering passed away in 1925, the lavish estate was inherited by Barbara Deering Danielson and Marion Deering McCormick, who were his half-brother Charles’ daughters. James Deering’s relatives were the caretakers of the estate for many years, but decades of hurricanes and high maintenance expenses made managing the property a very costly endeavor. As a result, Deering’s nieces decided to sell some of Vizcaya’s surrounding land parcels and outer gardens. At the time, South Florida was in desperate need of a new hospital after World War II. In 1945, portions of the Vizcaya property were sold to the Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine. That land would later become the location of  Miami’s Mercy Hospital.

Soon after the land acquisition, the archdiocese began a fundraising campaign. Donations were collected door-to-door, in local movie theaters and even public schools. The money raised was used to build Marcy Hospital. Architectural firm Steward and Skinner Associates designed the hospital and construction began in 1946. Mercy Hospital officially opened its doors on December 18, 1950. The hospital staff was provided by the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine, which assumed sponsorship of Mercy from the diocese in 1966.

In the 1960s, Mercy was the first hospital in Miami to to allow Cuban exile doctors to practice medicine, providing them with the opportunity to begin a new life in the United States. The hospital also offered free medical care to any veteran of the Bay of Pigs.

In 2010, the Mercy Hospital board of directors, Catholic Health East, and the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine announced plans to sell Mercy to Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) for an undisclosed amount. Despite being sold to a non-religious corporation, Mercy remains a Catholic hospital. Religious paraphernalia are still displayed throughout the hospital and a daily mass continues to be held.

-Ursa Gil

 References

“Our History.” Mercy Hospitalhttps://mercymiami.com/about/history.dot

HAROLD STEWARDhttp://www.themacklecompany.com/femjrstorypublic/personalstories/haroldsteward.htm .

 

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