Abandoned Mississippi: Vicksburg’s Mercy Hospital

Standing on a two-block parcel on a high hill overlooking Grove Street, the old Mercy Hospital’s blue tile front wall still beckons drivers off of the busy Clay Street thoroughfare. But the massive building is no longer a hive of activity, instead walled off from the community it once served by a high fence with razor wire on top. Even the nearby doctor’s offices that once served it have been vacated or turned to less intensive uses.

The hospital was the epitome of the post-World War II hope in modern medicine when it opened in May of 1957. Back then, the Vicksburg Evening Post ran a special issue describing the building, the leadership, the doctors who would staff it, the medical miracles that would be able to be performed there. Here’s just part of one of the articles from that issue.

New Three Million Dollar Structure Gives To This Area Finest In Hospital Facilities

Completion of the new Mercy Hospital-Street Memorial, three-million dollar structure, along with the Street Clinic and other adjoining facilities, is heralded as an important step forward for Vicksburg and this entire area.

The new 200-bed hospital gives to this section the newest and most modern facilities. A shining achievement for Vicksburg, many are expected from over a wide area to attend the dedication and opening on Wednesday.

Located on Grove street, one block north of the Memorial Arch on Clay, the new hospital and its adjoining buildings stand on the brown of a ridge that falls away toward the surrounding sub-division, Wildwood. The site includes some twenty-six acres.

The hospital was constructed by Seth E. Giem and Associates General Contractors with Raymond Birchett, native Vicksburger architect and engineer.

The main hospital building and its adjoining units form a huge U. The out-patient division is built adjoining the hospital but on a separate site. A beautiful chapel, constructed from private funds, is adjacent to the hospital and is accessible by means of a covered walk from the main building and to sisters and student nurses passing to and fro.

Just beyond the chapel is the nursing school and education building. This, too, is connected to the main units by covered walkway.

The hospital is completely air-conditioned.

Building Site

Located, as it is on top of a hill mass, about forty feet above the road elevation at Grove street, the new hospital units command an impressive view from surrounding areas.

The building site was graded so as to provide the main entrance and ambulance entrances to the out-patient division at one elevation and all service entrances on the west side at a lower elevation.

Ample roadways and parking facilities for all points at the hospital have been provided. An access road for service vehicles was provided from Grove street into the courtyard.

With the Administration and Out patient division areas to the north, with easy access from Grove Street, the nursing units are to the south where they receive southern sun and prevailing summer breezes.

While the new hospital is designed for 200 beds, provision is made for adding fifty additional beds on the fifth floor at a later date. Plumbing connections, elevators shafts and dumbwaiter service for nursing stations were all included to provide for this future addition.

Hospital Description

The hospital proper is divided into nine parts. These include the Administration, Adjunct Facilities, including Pathology, Radio and X-Ray Therapy, Hydro Therapy, Electro Therapy, Pharmacy, Nursing Facilities, Nursery, Formula Preparation, Surgical Department, Obstetrics, Emergency Service Facilities.

The Administration suite is adjacent to the main front entrance. It connect to the walk leading to the chapel, and nursing school. Space is provided for main lobby and waiting rooms, admitting office, Social services office, Information, PBX and tube room. Administrator, Secretary Director of Nurses, Director of Nurses, Director of Nursing Service, Director of Personnel, Purchasing office, Business office, Bookkeeping and Insurance offices, Business machines office, Record room, Staff lounge, Chaplain’s office, and Reference library is on the top floor.

Drugs from the pharmacy will be dispensed to out patients through the business office with pharmacy located directly behind the business office.

Vicksburg Evening Post, Tuesday, May 7, 1957, p. 1ff.

Mercy Hospital served Vicksburg and western Mississippi for several decades under the leadership of the Sisters of Mercy, who had a long tradition of nursing service in Vicksburg. Mercy even played a role in the establishment of a nursing school at USM in the 1960s. But changes in the medical industry (implicit in the new term “medical industry”) forced them to sell the hospital in 1991 to a group called Quorum Health Care. After that, my research gets a bit fuzzy because I haven’t been able to establish dates of when the hospital finally closed and whether the new River Regional Medical Center on Highway 61 is considered a successor or is a new hospital entirely. I’m sure, given the community that has grown up around the Kuhn Memorial Hospital post, that there are people out there who will help us with our dates and facts. My best guess is that Mercy closed around 2000.

I suppose it’s too much to hope for in a town like Vicksburg that this hulking modernist pile will ever be fixed up and given new life. Meanwhile, I’ll still enjoy looking over at the blue tile wall with the cross on it whenever I’m passing by on Clay Street.

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Categories: Architectural Research

33 replies

  1. Too bad it can’t be turned into a hotel. it would certainly be better than the plastic palazzi built by the casinos.

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  2. I like this town “like Vicksburg!”

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  3. This is a very interesting article that shows the history of Vicksburg and the contents within the beautiful

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  4. My first child was born, Nov. 2001,at “Mercy” which was named Parkview at the time. Three months later a friend had her baby at River Region. Hope this helps with the time line a little.

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  5. They need to update the pics.. We have cleaned the outside up a good bit. Now for this place to ever be used again it would need extensive remodeling. VPD wasnt doing their part a couple years back and copper theives got in and tore it up. We have cleaned it up since then but there is water damage now since they clipped water lines and everything else they could get their hands on. The company that owns it has numerous times tried to get something going with the building but no one wanted anything to do with it. Keep in mind, we are trying! I personally love the place and hate to see it as it is but there is only so much we can do. We now have cooperation from the VPD for the most part, after a truck load of our copper was stolen from their yard!! Keep your heads up on the place. Something may happen with it before long. They have poured alot of money in it since we started taking care of the place in 06. They just cant seem to get a bite on the building. Maybe great things will come out of it soon. By the way, if you know anyone even speaking of trying to go in and walk through, be sure you let them know that we will prosecute to the fullest extent!! Before the thieves came and tore the place to pieces, the owner would have let anyone just go through and check things out but there is no hope in that now. Keep in mind, before these people broke in, there was still alot of hope for the place and still had power and working plumbing to where now its a shell with a few decent floors. There are no vines on the building or elevator shaft anymore.We have done a good bit with the place since someone took these pics.

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    • Are people allowed to go in? Is it guarded?

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    • Hi Kevin. We have a Veterans program that we are looking to relocate from Pensacola, Florida. The old Mercy Hospital would be a perfect fit for what we do. We are used to renovating buildings in need of restoration. Think it will be a grand adventure to rebuild this great historical landmark. Will be setting up an appt to view the building in the next few weeks. Any info you have would be greatly appreciated.

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  6. Awww!!! It’s hard to see this. I went to nursing school there. I Graduated in 1964 and spent the next 3 years working in surgery there, until I moved along to experience the rest of my life. I have been retired from nursing since 2003. How time flies.

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    • Hi Kathy! I was born in Vicksburg at Mercy in 1962 and remember many visits there while growing up. Dr. Jarrett was my pediatrician and he had a nurse (sister of Mercy) that was referred to as “Bobo”. I vividly remember both she and Dr. Jarrett! Gosh, I saw Dr. Jarrett for YEARS, then another doctor ? (Maybe Kiley?). Anyway, I know Dr. Jarrett has been deceased for years and wondered if you remember his nurse, Bobo, or other pediatricians there between 1962 and 1970? Yes, time DOES fly!
      Thanks so very much!

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  7. It is hard for me as well. My nursing school in El Dorado, Ark closed and 5 members of my class transferred here for our senior year. We graduated in 1967 just as the new affiliation with Hattiesburg was starting. I have fond memories of studying in the Battlefields, sitting on a cannon, then walking back to our dorm behind the hospital. This was back when the US had the best medical care system on the planet and this hospital was a shining example of it.

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  8. We have been going through the extensive sets of blueprints and bluelines for this hospital which are contained in the Birchett-Montgomery Architectural Records. This was a huge project which generated copius documentation for both the original buildings and the alterations and additions, 1954-1967. Most of the documentation survived, although it seems that for the most part, the original plans are not in these records which are in Special Collections, Mississippi State University Libraries. Perhaps they were given to the client?

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  9. Is this property for sale?

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  10. I was born here in 1965

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  11. I was born here in 1968 and my brother was born here in 1972

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  12. I was born at Mercy Hospital in 1968 and my brother was born there in 1972. I am visiting Vicksburg now and I was looking for the old hospital site when I ran across this article. This is a great article, thanks.

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  13. I remember this hospital well. I worked there during High School in the evening and during the summer as an orderly back when a Hospital was a real hospital where caring nurses and staff provided real patient care. The Sisters ran it with authority and care for the people who came through its doors. I wish I could say the same about hospitals today. It was always spotlessly clean and maintained at that time. It made me proud to work at such a facility. It saddens me to know that it has been closed and left to decay.

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    • Hello to anyone interested in the old Mercy Hospital. We have done a second, more thorough walkthrough, courtesy of the owners, just recently, and were very impressed! Yes, it needs cleaning and some replacement of stolen plumbing, but overall, it’s is great condition.
      We are currently talking with the owners about purchasing this great facility and doing a Veterans recovery program there. The owners have been so wonderful to us and have gone out of their way to work with us in viewing the building.
      Once we agree upon terms with the owners of the property, and we hope it’s soon, we’d love for anyone ever born there, worked there, knew someone there, to set up a time for a re-visit. For anyone interested in helping out in any way to rehab the property, let us know so we can meet and make some plans. She’s an incredible facility and the maintenance guys the owners have are doing an excellent job at keeping her clean! We’ve been searching.for the right building for over two years and we’ve seen some buildings in really bad shape.
      We have met with one of the city’s inspection managers in the hospital and he was so very encouraging and helpful. Also met with a Warren County Veteran Service Officer and she did a detailed tour of the best and worst of the entire facility with us. She was fun to have along! There’s a lot to like about Vicksburg;

      for the walkthrough!

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  14. I think I was one of the early babies born in the new hospital – August 30, 1957. And spent many days in residence throughout an early childhood of severe asthma, including one Christmas. As a Presbyterian, I was quite intrigued by the Sisters and all the trappings of Roman Catholicism like crucifixes and religious statuary – then spent time here during high school as a Candy Striper – along with Helen Carter, and a couple of girls from Utica and Raymond, I think. I can do “hospital corners” on beds today because of those years.

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  15. I went to nursing school (RN) at Mercy and stayed there for 45 years. Many, many good memories. We provided excellent care. Would love to write a book. I also live directly behind the hospital. I pray that someone gives it new life. I did retire in 2003! However the memories remain.

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  16. I graduated from Mercy in 1960. A nun who taught me as a 4th grade student at St.Michael’s elementary school in Biloxi taught me as a student nurse at Mercy. I like, Shirley Farish have many
    happy memories of the hospital and Mercy Hospital Street Memorial School of Nursing.I retired from Nursing in 2005.

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  17. I was born in this hospital on April 29, 1993 and I remember when they built the new hospital River Region in 2001 or so.. I guess when river region came up Park View went down…. But I still think that park view had many more skilled nurses and doctors that actually knew what they where doing.. I really would love for it to be restored and opened back up as a hospital.. Not a hotel. That would be one haunted hotel if so lol..

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  18. I was born here in the summer of 1991.
    I recently heard that this hospital is now haunted? Anybody know if there’s any truth to that?

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  19. I was born here in 1963 and I lived until I was 17 five houses up from the hospital in Wildwood subdivision. The Sisters of Mercy kept this place spotless. I remember being a CandyStriper here for several years. My mother passed away here in 1994 and that was the last time I ever was at the hospital. It would be wonderful for someone to come in a restore it. I always wondered why they spent the money to build an entirely new hospital when they could have just “spruced up” this one…

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  20. What would happen if someone got caught in there? I really want to see the inside of it. But do not want to get in any kind of trouble. If you have any information, and or pictures/websites with pictures please reply! Thanks!

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  21. I spent more than a few hours in the ER getting sewn up after football practices and games at St. Al. My first and third children were born there in 1964 and 1966, respectively. Went to Mass in the chapel many times. The hospital was superior. What a loss for my hometown!

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  22. As a former employ of River Region Health System, I can provide a little bit of information on the retirement of the old Mercy Hospital building and moving to the new facility on Hwy 61 North. The move was completed on February 17, 2002. The decision was made in the late 1990s that the two hospitals in town should be combined into one facility. The Vicksburg Medical Center located on I-20 was owned by HCA in Nashville and Parkview was own by Quorum in Brentwood TN. The Vicksburg Medical Center facility was sold to Quorum in mid 1998 and soon afterward the integration of the two hospitals began. Since both the Vicksburg Medical Center and Parkview were older facilities with limited space for expansion, plans were made to look for a new location to build a brand new state of the art facility. Many of the internal infrastructure systems of the old Mercy Hospital/Parkview, were in desperate need of repair and replacement. One example would be the HVAC system. During periods of changing weather, it would take approximately 24 hours to switch from heating to cooling or back again. This would often cause discomfort for staff and patients when the Mississippi weather would swing wildly.

    Also, parking was becoming a large problem at the facility. There was very limited parking place on top of the hill for patients and family members. This required many to park at the bottom of the hill or in the Street Clinic parking lot, and walk up the hill. We did have a golf cart that would help transport people from the bottom of the hill to the top of the hill, but it wasn’t always enough. During time of bad weather, the act of getting people up to the top of the hill was much worse.

    After the move to the new River Region Medical Center in February 2002, plans were in place to sell the building to be used for different purposes. One plan was to sell it to one of the universities to establish a nursing school. Many of the plans would fall through and nothing much has happened with the building since then. This will be a large cost in getting the building back up to standards as the building as a large amount of asbestos in it and some of the areas will need major renovation. Black mold was a problem in the building even before we moved out. Since the building has been vacate for so long, this will be a major issue to resolve now.

    As a former employ, I enjoyed working in that building. It was a very interesting building to be in. We always had curious sounds that we could not figure out where they came from. There was always more then one “interesting” way to get to other parts of the hospital. It was a running joke with some new employes that you could work in the building for a month, and never take the same path twice to get somewhere. I would love to see that building remodeled and used for something great. I have many fond memories of working in and around that building for years.

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  1. Mississippi Architect, December 1963: Neshoba General Hospital « Preservation in Mississippi

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