Historic Detroit

Every building in Detroit has a story — we're here to share it

St. Mary's Hospital

St. Mary’s was Detroit’s first hospital, established by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul on June 9, 1845. This was back when the city was home to only about 11,000 people and just getting back on its feet after suffering its fourth cholera epidemic in 12 years.

For its first five years, it was known as St. Vincent's Hospital, and located at Randolph and Larned streets. Then, on Nov. 6, 1850, it moved into a new brick building on Clinton Street near St. Antoine with room for 150 patients. The land was a gift of Monique Beaubien, whose only request was for the hospital’s name to be changed to St. Mary’s.

It would serve as a military hospital during the Civil and Spanish-American wars, and offered charitable, nonsectarian care. As Detroit’s population grew, so did the need for hospital beds. The 325-bed hospital seen here opened Nov. 21, 1879, on the northeast corner of Clinton and St. Antoine, near the old hospital. It was designed by the Detroit firm Lloyd & Pearce, of which Gordon W. Lloyd -- perhaps Detroit’s most prolific architect of the late 19th century -- was a partner.

In 1948, it was bought by a group of doctors and renamed Detroit Memorial Hospital. On April 12, 1950, Detroit Memorial opened a multiple sclerosis center, the first of its kind in the state.

With Detroit’s population declining, and more modern hospitals opening in the suburbs, Detroit Memorial closed in 1987. The hospital, heavily modified over the years, didn’t look half this beautiful when it was demolished in February 1990. Wayne County started building a new jail on the site in September 2011, but the project was halted in June 2013.