Demolition starting on Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center

June 11, 2024  By: Anthony Matt

Legacy SMMC

Work to prepare the former Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center for demolition is underway. The century-old building was replaced by the current St. Mary's Medical Center, which opened in July 2023.

Site prep will become more visible as the summer progresses, starting with the removal of skywalks connecting to the legacy hospital. Our construction partner for this project, Minnesota-based Rachel Contracting, will remove the skywalks early next month.

Demolition will involve heavy equipment deconstructing the building and is expected to take approximately one year to complete. The project will require some lane closures.

"We are committed to minimizing the impact on our neighbors and the surrounding community," said Tonya Loken, Essentia's community relations director. "Their safety and security will be a key consideration of every decision made during this process."

Upon completion of demolition, the site will become a temporary green space while the final use is determined. We continue to believe this is the best location for the University of Minnesota medical school's Duluth campus. By placing the medical school on the St. Mary's site, where it could help revitalize the Fourth Street corridor, students would be connected to the region’s only Level I Trauma Center and a brand-new, state-of-the-art hospital. In Duluth, Essentia already provides more than 70% of the total clinical rotations to the medical school.

In January 2022, Essentia Health and the Benedictine Sisters of the St. Scholastica Monastery, who own the site, announced that the building would be demolished.

"We recognize and respect that many people have an emotional connection to the former St. Mary's," Loken said. "We were honored to care for so many patients throughout the hospital’s 100-year history."'

Much like the construction of the new St. Mary's location, the demolition project offers another opportunity to support the building trades and union jobs.

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