My mother told me my younger brother and I were born at the "Old" Mercy Hospital. What can you tell me about it?
The first Sisters of Mercy arrived in New Orleans in 1869. Six of them had journeyed from St. Louis to teach Irish students at St. Alphonsus School. The sisters developed a health care ministry, a day care for working mothers, an orphanage and a shelter for elderly women and those looking for work.
They opened the first Mercy Hospital, also known as the Soniat Memorial Hospital, on March 19, 1924, with a reception and a blessing by Archbishop John W. Shaw. The hospital was located at 1321 Annunciation St.
The previous fall, Leona Saulet Soniat purchased the building for $100,000 and gave it to the sisters in memory of her husband, Leonce. The sisters, with the aid of their supporters, added $20,000 worth of improvements. A landmark in New Orleans, the building — the old Saulet Plantation home — was erected in 1816 on land that once was part of the Jesuit plantation and had been purchased in 1763 by Soniat's great-grandfather, Thomas Saulet.
In 1860, the building was taken over by the Sisters of Charity. For more than half a century, it housed St. Simeon's Select Seminary for Girls and Young Ladies. Many prominent women in Louisiana were educated there. Prior to Soniat's purchase, it was Dr. B. F. Gallant's mental hospital.
More than 100,000 patients were treated at the first Mercy Hospital. In 1928, the first class of nurses completed their training at the Mercy School of Nursing. By the time the hospital moved, 342 young women had graduated.
In 1951, the "new" Mercy Hospital opened on North Jefferson Davis Parkway and Bienville Street. The original hospital was abandoned, and the old Saulet Plantation home was demolished in 1959 to make way for a Schwegmann's supermarket.