Published on January 18, 2022

Completion of Vision Northland will mark new era for St. Mary’s Medical Center  

Existing hospital will come down when new one is ready for patient care 

After careful consideration, study and discussion, the Benedictine Sisters of St. Scholastica Monastery and Essentia Health have decided to demolish the current St. Mary’s Medical Center building once construction on the new hospital is complete. 

The current St. Mary’s building will remain open to care for patients into 2023. Demolition will begin after the new St. Mary’s Medical Center hospital tower is fully operational and services have been relocated there. 

“The decision to demolish the aging hospital was not easy, especially when considering the important role the building has played in the history of Duluth, the Northland and the communities we serve,” said Essentia Health CEO David C. Herman, MD. 

For the past three years, the Benedictine Sisters and leaders from Essentia Health have been in a discernment process regarding the future of the building. Key factors in the decision-making process to demolish the original St. Mary’s included prohibitively high operating and maintenance costs for the aging building, especially its heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing systems. Given those costs, renovating and/or repurposing the building isn’t viable.  

The oldest part of the current building is almost 100 years old; it was completed in 1922-23. 

“The Benedictine Sisters began caring for our community on this site in 1898, so the hospital has served generations of families and their neighbors,” said Sister Beverly Raway, Prioress of the St. Scholastica Monastery. “Essentia is now building a new hospital to serve generations to come. The legacy of caring and the mission of the Benedictine Sisters will continue in the new St. Mary’s Medical Center.” 

The discernment committee engaged SEH, a local consulting firm, to help develop a facilities master plan not only for Essentia’s downtown medical campus, but nearby properties owned by the Benedictine Sisters and Essentia. 

The committee and its consultants have begun engaging city officials and community partners to discuss redevelopment and other opportunities. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and future uses of the property will honor its past, its history and the missions of the Sisters and Essentia. The master plan will reflect the best use both for today and the next generation. 

Vision Northland, Essentia’s $900 million project which will match the facilities on our downtown Duluth campus with how medicine is practiced in the 21st century, is expected to be complete in the first quarter of 2023, with the hospital opening for patient care in the third quarter of 2023. 

To coordinate interviews, photos, and/or video, contact the media relations team.

Like most websites, we use cookies and other technologies to keep our website reliable, secure, and to better understand how our site is used. By using our site, you agree to our use of these tools. Learn more.