The west-side St. Mary’s Road is named in honor of Tucson’s first nonmilitary hospital.
The road runs from Granada Avenue on the east to just west of Silverbell Road, where it becomes Anklam Road. An 1876 survey map shows an unnamed dirt road west of the Santa Cruz River, traveling through fields owned by prominent citizens of Tucson. The road ends to the west of land owned by Pedro Martinez and Juan Elias. The land was the future site of St. Mary’s Hospital.
The original name of this dirt road appears to be Sisters’ Lane, as it was called in the transcripts of an 1885 lawsuit over water rights on the Santa Cruz River, Dalton vs. Carrillo. Although it’s likely that was not an official name, but just what people called it.
In 1897, Leo Goldschmidt recorded the Goldschmidt Addition on the east side of the Santa Cruz River with Pima County and named the dirt path Hospital Road.
The road again changed names in 1903, when Thomas Hughes recorded his subdivision known as McKinley Park (now Barrio Anita) and labeled it St. Mary’s Avenue. It later was changed to St. Mary’s Road, although Hospital Road remained in common use for several more years in city directories and maps.
In 1870, the seven Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet arrived in Tucson after a month-long trip from Missouri by train, ship and wagon. Twelve years later, they bought St. Mary’s Hospital, which had been built by Bishop Jean Baptiste Salpointe at the request of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The hospital opened its doors in 1880 and was sold with the agreement that it would remain a hospital for 99 years and that it would keep its name. The year of the purchase, a second story was added.
In 1900, as a result of the increasing number of tubercular patients, a two-story circular sanatorium — commonly referred to as the “Round Building” — was built. In 1907, the hospital received electricity.
In 1914, St. Mary’s opened a nursing school and received formal accreditation in 1922. The first two male nurses in Arizona graduated in 1939. In 1956, the hospital was annexed by the city of Tucson.
In 1968, the Centurions, a nonprofit organization created to raise money for St. Mary’s Emergency Department and other hospital projects, was formed. Centurion Drive, west of the hospital, was named for the group.
In 1977 the old nursing school was razed, and two years later the hospital’s west wing opened and most of the patient care was relocated there.
St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital merged in 1983.
St. Mary’s Hospital is nonprofit and is part of the Carondelet Health Network.