The retirement home in Mount Carmel on South Alameda Street and Everhart Road housed around 60 residents in May 1961.

The Mount Carmel retirement home started with a lot of shoe leather.

When the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus decided in 1945 to collect donations for the construction of a retirement home in Corpus Christi, the funds raised often came in the form of nickels, pennies and quarters, which the sisters had collected for weeks in hot summer, in order to raise funds from regional Asking businesses and individuals.

Carmelites

The Carmelite Sisters began operating a kindergarten for the diocese of Corpus Christi in October 1925. The sisters looked after children from families whose parents worked. Many of the children had lost either a mother or a father and the surviving parents had to work to make a living.

More:Here’s why Corpus Christi’s former home for assisted living on Mount Carmel is being demolished

Plans for a retirement home

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However, the group decided that the facility did not have an expansion room, so a larger location on South Alameda Street and Everhart Road was purchased.

New facility

On December 14, 1952, officials gathered to break new ground. The third time was the attraction: the groundbreaking ceremonies were postponed twice due to bad weather.

Minerva Carr, 99, and Rev. Gerard Schellinger turn a ceremonial dirt spade during the groundbreaking ceremony for an extension to the Mount Carmel retirement home in Corpus Christi on July 16, 1965.  Carr was a resident of the house.

The building cost $ 515,000 and was designed in the Spanish architectural style with stucco walls and a red tile roof. About 35 residents moved in after the open house on February 7, 1954. The two-story residential wing offered space for 65 residents as well as quarters for the Carmelite Sisters who ran the house. Prices ranged from $ 80 to $ 135 per month, depending on whether the room had an en suite or shared bathroom.

More:The Ed Rachal Foundation, a nonprofit, buys the Mount Carmel property

The facility was the first Corpus Christi nursing home when it opened. In fact, when construction began on Trinity Towers in 1997, the city didn’t get another serviced residence for more than 40 years. The Mount Carmel Home was the third home operated by the Carmelite Sisters in Texas. Although the house was run by a Catholic order, it was open to all faiths. The first person to move in after the open house was an episcopal woman who had her name on the waiting list before the ground was even broken.

Upgrades

A decade later, the facility was expanded. A groundbreaking ceremony took place on July 16, 1965, which is also the feast day of Our Lady of Carmel. A resident, 99-year-old Miranda Carr, helped break the ground with Bishop Adolph Marx of the Diocese of Corpus Christi and the chaplain of the house, Rev. Gerard Schellinger.

The new addition was opened in March 1967 and could now accommodate 90 residents. A convent wing and a small chapel for the 19 sisters, a public chapel, a dining room and kitchen extensions as well as air conditioning were added.

More:Mount Carmel is supposed to be closed after 63 years, nuns are supposed to leave Corpus Christi

Building comes down

But by 2017 the building and mechanical systems were showing their age; Some entrances were too small to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs, and the 50-year-old air conditioner could no longer stand the humidity in South Texas. Estimates for repairs were $ 17 million. The Carmelite Sisters and the Diocese made the difficult decision to close the house.

While the place will no longer host the beautiful Spanish architecture of Mount Carmel Home, new life will soon be entering the place. In 2019 the Ed Rachal Foundation bought the six-acre site and began demolishing the building last month. The foundation plans to lease the front of the property for retail development, while approximately 2 acres at the rear of the property will be leased to the Ronald McDonald House of Corpus Christi for $ 1 for the next 50 years.

Allison Ehrlich writes about activities in South Texas and has a weekly Throwback Thursday column on local history. In this way, help support local coverage by checking out our subscription options and specials at Caller.com/subscribe