Hotel Dieu Hospital

Ernest Krause was by any measure the most prolific El Paso architect before the arrival of Trost & Trost in 1903. Two other major architects from the era, John J. Stewart and Edward Kneezell, have examples of their work still standing; however the wrecking ball and destructive fires have taken their toll on E. Krause designed buildings. His watermark year was 1883-1884, when he designed and built both the Grand Central Hotel, a Victorian masterpiece that stood where today's Anson Mills building is; and the Victorian Eclectic Hotel Dieu Hospital, a building which made it all the way to 1950 before it was bulldozed and replaced.

1881 El Paso was targeted as a healthy city for people stricken with what was then known as the "Galloping Consumption", what we know today as Tuburculosis. The young city could not handle the influx of people seeking refuge from the disease, and saw the growth of tent cities, especially in the Highland Park area. The Pastor of St. Mary's Chapel, Rev. Charles Ferrari, SJ, was approached by a consortium of people that included Edward Barrien to see if there was a religious order that could come help with the overflow of sick people. Rev. Ferrari approached the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, who agreed immediately to come to El Paso. Lead by Superior Sister Mary Stella, they opened St. Mary's Hospital in a rented home at 1015 Overland St. Quickly overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, the Hospital moved to a larger rented house; when it was immediately filled with patients, a stunning syndicate of El Paso's most influential people stepped in to help, utilizing fundraising events and giving charitably themselves.

With a large amount of funds raised, Sister Stella borrowed another $5,500 and purchased the land for the new hospital at the corner of Stanton and Rio Grande. It would be named The House of God (Hotel Dieu).

The Hospital was built in less than a year, on a budget of $75,000. Ernest Krause was retained to design the structure, and he placed an ad in the January 26, 1893 El Paso Times for contractor bids. On the 1st of March of that year, the firm of Caples and Hammer was retained as contractors, and construction was started immediately. The building was ready for a limited number of patients by January 21, 1894, and had its opening ceremonies on Thursday the 25th.

Through the decades, the Hospital weaved itself into the fabric of El Paso. In 1950, the old building was demolished and replaced, and then the facility was sold to Millbrook Hospitals and renamed Landmark Medical Center in 1987. In 2003 it was purchased by Columbia, who closed the hospital and demolished the building.

There were a number of firsts that Hotel Dieu can boast, including the very first female Doctor employed in the area - Dr. Alice Merchant, who also had been a patient. In 1894, the first Apendectomy was performed in the southwest at Hotel Dieu. The patient was a unnamed servant of the Dr. H.E. Stevenson family, and the surgery was performed by Dr. Walter Vilas.

Hotel Dieu also used the first X-Ray machine and Microscope in the area in treating patients. Anyone who has lived in El Paso for any extended period of time has been touched in some way by the iconic hospital. Unfortunately, the original Victorian Eclectic gem of a building has been gone for 70 years, remembered only in photographs.


Text and research provided to by Mark Stone, citing:

-- Newspaper clippings available through newspapers dot com at

-- El Paso Times "Tales from the Morgue", May 27, 1950 "Old Hotel Dieu Registry Recalls Early EP History", staff writer(s),

-- El Paso Times, "Hotel Dieu hospital was answer to growing need due to tuberculosis, tent city in El Paso", 10/05/2019, Trish Long (

1900 Photograph courtesy of the El Paso County Historical Society via the El PAso History Alliance Facebook Page and otherwise uncredited

Photograph courtesy of the El Paso Times' "Tales from the Morgue" at

Photograph courtesy of the El Paso County Medical Society, via the El Paso Museum of History's DIGIE at

Photograph courtesy of the El Paso County Medical Society, via the El Paso Museum of History's DIGIE at