|City/Town: • Oklahoma City|
|Location Class: • Hospital|
|Built: • 1956 | Abandoned: • 1980|
|Status: • Abandoned • Endangered • Private Property|
|Photojournalist: • AbandonedOK Team • Michael Schwarz|
In 1944 the Catholic Brothers of Mercy, a nursing order of Catholic Brothers, had started the organization of St. Vincent’s Home in a residence on North Shartel. After outgrowing the space in a short period of time, they had built a twenty-two-room facility on the property in 1952. The purpose of St. Vincent’s Home was to care for physically and mentally ill men and boys in the Oklahoma City area under Catholic direction. Quickly growing in admissions an addition was in the works by 1956. Charles Monnot & Associates (Monnot and Monnot) were architects for the project working with general contractors J.J. Bolinger Construction Company. The total cost of the modern hospital was around $105,900 with a $50,000 grant from Hill-Burton being applied as well. The new red brick addition would be two stories tall allowing space for twenty-three more patients as well as providing a chapel.
Superior Brother Bellarmine Salamon oversaw operations of the hospital providing patients with the word of God and providing them with a comfortable place to rest up and heal or pass on. They even had an annual carnival and magic shows to fundraise for the home. For many years St. Vincent’s Home for the Chronically Ill, one of the handfuls of names it went by, was relatively quiet in terms of being in the media. But unfortunately in 1962, St. Vincents made news headlines for an ungodly story.
On October 23, 1962, The Daily Oklahoman reported that a former male nurse had turned himself into Oklahoma City Police confessing to killing two patients at the St. Vincent’s Nursing home a year ago. Louis Andre Demers was only twenty-four years old when he killed the two men, his motive was “because I had tried to kill once and couldn’t do it. I wanted to find out how it felt.” His victims were Stewart Mitchell and William Ingraham whose deaths were said to be from natural causes. Demers had moved to Boston about a month after the killings where he went to attend school, having done some reflecting on his actions he went to the hospital knowing he must be sick. After speaking with psychiatrists and confessing to the killings they didn’t believe him because there was no proof. The officers standing before him didn’t believe him either and ordered a polygraph test. After the polygraph showed that he was telling the truth, Demers was examined by psychiatrists who deemed him to be mentally unfit to stand trial. He was then diagnosed with schizophrenia and sent to Central State Hospital in Norman for treatment. Shortly after he was released from CSH and went on to get his degree at Washburn University in Kansas and worked as a licensed mental health technician at Menninger Clinic for many years.
In 1968, Father Richard F. Dolan attempted to remodel St. Vincent’s Home into a rehab center for alcoholics. Renaming the facility to The Main Artery, the grounds were worked on by a 20-man crew of recovering alcoholics being treated by Dolan. Their labor was mostly volunteer-based except for a small “allowance”. Plans included the eventual renovation of two houses on the 10-acre tract of land but currently focused on the main building. The rehab facility once complete would have a capacity of 100 patients and cost about $1,200 a day to run. With the only source of money to make the changes being donations, Father Dolan who was also an artist sold some of his paintings to assist in the fundraising. Each Sunday a benefit breakfast was held for $2.50 per person to also help raise money. All psychiatrists, therapists and doctors volunteered to provide help. By late 1971 the center had moved to Melrose Lane.
Briefly, in 1980 the former nursing home was used as a haunted house attraction but that venture quickly died. Since then the property has become a haven for trespassers. Millard, owner of the property since 2004, said they have had to hire a security company to patrol the building, as well as local police to make more frequent stops. “We’ve had people ticketed for trespassing to try and run them off,” Bowie said. “We try to keep it boarded up, but people are very rude and break in anyway. We have tried to board it up over a dozen times.
THIS LOCATION IS NOT OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. THE OWNER WILL CALL THE COPS AND THOSE TRESPASSING WILL BE PROSECUTED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT.
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