|The Sisters of Mercy provided health care for the Prescott community from 1878 to 1886 and then from 1893 to 1940. They built Mercy Hospital, along with a chapel, convent and guesthouse for patients' families. They are
representative of the nuns who worked throughout the West, opening hospitals and schools in new towns, providing education and healthcare in small western communities.
Region: North Central Arizona
Theme: Women in Science, Medicine and Health
|Two nuns from the Sisters of Mercy, a Catholic religious order, first arrived in
Prescott in 1878. They had traveled across the hot desert sands and desolate
country between San Diego and Tucson a few years earlier. These intrepid nuns
spoke to miners and camp workers to raise funds for an association that would
provide health care in the Prescott area. They ran a small hospital there from
1878 to 1886 and then returned to Tucson.
A few years later, Father Albert Quetu, a French missionary, appealed to the
Sisters of Mercy in Phoenix, asking them to send assistance to Prescott. These
nuns had built St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, which began as a sanatorium for
those suffering from tuberculosis. In Prescott, Father Quetu needed help in
caring for the ill, and the Sisters of Mercy provided it. At first, they nursed
the ill in a small house that had been turned into a hospital.
In 1896, Mercy Hospital Corporation purchased five lots in west Prescott and
acquired permission from the city council to build a hospital. After the
building was completed the following year, the sisters began nursing the sick
there. The building had space for 24 patients. By 1903, a new addition was
needed. In 1915, the nuns also built a chapel and convent on an adjoining lot.
Later they added a guesthouse for patients' families and visiting clergy. This
hospital provided many health care services, including maternity care.
Fundraising in the 1920s provided for the construction of a new surgery wing.
However, in 1940 a terrible fire ended the sisters' service in Prescott. They
did not rebuild the hospital; instead they sold the property and returned to
The Sisters of Mercy Order was founded in Ireland in 1831 by Catherine McAuley.
The Sisters first came to Tucson in 1870, and to Phoenix in 1892. They opened a
school in Tucson and also a hospital. They had planned to open a school in
Phoenix but quickly found that many were suffering from tuberculosis and needed
health care. Their work in healthcare in Phoenix led to the construction of St.
Joseph's Hospital, which is still a well-respected hospital today. See Sisters
of Mercy/St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center.
The Sisters of Mercy convent is now a chapel at Prescott College. It is open to
the public and located at 220 Grove Ave., Prescott College, Prescott, Arizona.