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Remembering Mercy Hospital

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Posted: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 8:35 pm

Peggy Chambers recently presented the story of Mercy Hospital to Liberty Lions Club members. Mercy Hospital is very near and dear to her family. It was built in 1930.

Peggy told the guests the hospital was originally called The Liberty Hospital, and two doctors worked there.

After the first three years, the doctors left.

In another two years, the hospital went up for public auction.

That is when Peggy's paternal grandfather, C. A. Chambers, bought it and deeded it to the Sisters of St. Francis, who ran the hospital until 1963, when it closed.

After 1935, two nuns ran the hospital, and the hospital became Mercy Hospital. There were 10 beds.

The nuns were paid nothing, because they were Sisters of Charity.

The nuns took care of the patients and lived on the premises. They wore black during the week, and white on Sundays.

A second addition was constructed, opening 20 more beds to make a total of 30 patient beds.

During one of the expansions, the nuns asked C. A. and his wife, Myrtle Chambers, to build an addition for a nursery, a delivery room and a chapel.

Elmer Ratcliff did the construction for the nuns. At the end of the Sisters of Charity service in Mercy Hospital, there were 20 nuns, who had travelled here from Ohio.

In 1956, the hospital had taken overflow patients from Kersting Hospital (Liberty's other hospital). Mercy Hospital's patients were indigent and could not pay.

The hospital could not operate with the funds available, for about five years. In 1963, Mercy Hospital closed its doors.

The property was then bought by a Houston firm, and turned into Autumn Hills Rest Home.

The hospital went into foreclosure in September 2009. The three local taxing authorities agreed to share the costs of having it demolished to get it back on the tax rolls.

When Peggy learned the hospital would be demolished, she knew she wanted to save something from the Mercy Hospital building. Peggy lost her son in February of this year.

She asked to speak to one of the supervisors on the demolition site. She found a supervisor, named Billy, and asked him for the cross above the chapel. Billy told her "no problem," but he could not guarantee the cross would not crack when they took it down. It is very heavy.

Billy also told her she would have to pay for the cross. The price ... one penny.

Peggy gladly paid the purchase price and called Ryan Peachtree, who had made her son's gravestone to help her transport the cross to the etching company.

The chapel cross will have "Chambers" on the front. The back of the cross will have a message relating to her grandparents donating the hospital in 1935.

It will be placed in the center of the family cemetery, where the Chambers have 12 plots.

Peggy later learned that Billy and his wife were expecting a baby, she bought a gift for the baby, a bib with a cross on it.

A bronze plaque was at the top of the hospital steps, which now is displayed on Peggy Chambers' home.

It reads:

Donated to the Sisters of St. Francis by Mr. and Mrs. C.A. Chambers August 15, 1935 as a devout tribute to their parents, Thomas J. and Fannie Chambers, and Stephen and Ophelia Greene (Peggy's grandfather's parents and her grandmother's parents).

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