Virginia City Clampers honor old hospital with plaque

Virginia City's historic hospital is getting recognition from one of Nevada's most notorious group of historians, E Clampus Vitus.

The Julia C. Bulette chapter of the "Clampers" will dedicate a marker Saturday at the hospital.

St. Mary Louise Hospital, at 55 N. R St. on the east side of Virginia City near Six Mile Canyon Road, was built in 1875. It was abandoned in 1897, and has been St. Mary's Art Center for 30 years.

"The dedication is such a nice surprise," said Mimi Patrick, treasurer and instructor for the art center.

The Rev. Patrick Manogue supervised the original construction of the brick hospital. It was managed by the Catholic church and served the large mining community.

"The four-story, $40,000 building, with accommodations for 70 patients, included an elaborate altar, a well-stocked reading room and a facility with bars on the windows for the mentally disturbed," the plaque reads.

Mining and mill workers contributed $1 per month to support the operation.

Patrick said the art center offers weeklong instruction in oil painting, watercolor, baskets, etching, photography and more to artists throughout the nation. Enrollees usually stay in one of St. Mary's 14 rooms, she added.

The plaque will be dedicated at Saturday, following a parade by the Julia C. Bulette Chapter. Bulette was a famous prostitute during Virginia City's heyday.

" We thought this dedication would be a great idea," said Marshall Fey, past noble grand humbug (president) of the Clampers. "This hospital was so important in the old days. Because of the climate of a mining town, they needed it."

Clampers' Angel of Peace Johnny Gunn will discuss how the Clampers were formed at 10 a.m., Fey said. The noon parade of Clampers will march down C Street toward the Bulette monument, where Gunn will "enlighten" new members. The dedication ceremony is at 1 p.m., followed by a 3 p.m. "Clamp feed," where 30 new members will be initiated into the chapter by the Grand Imperturbable Hangman, Fey added.


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