Our history

Frank E. Kaiser, an early Breckenridge citizen, wrote a letter to the Franciscan Sisters, who had achieved a reputation as great hospital builders. Sometime in 1899, Ezra G. Valentine, one of the pioneer leaders of the youthful city of Breckenridge, welcomed two Franciscan Sisters, Sister Mary Francis and Sister Mary Rose, from Little Falls to his office. They explained that they had come to Breckenridge to interview local businessmen and survey the possibilities of building a hospital. He asked of their resources.

"We don't have much money, but lots of faith," was the reply.

"That's enough, Sister. Go ahead and we will back you, " Valentine replied.

And thus, St. Francis Hospital got its start.

The block between Oregon and New York Avenues and Fourth and Fifth Streets South was obtained by gift and purchase and plans were laid for the building of Breckenridge's first hospital.

black and white, old photo showing St. Francis Hospital in early 1900s

St. Francis Hospital - early 1900's. It was located between 4th & 5th St. S. & Oregon Ave. in Breckenridge.

The beginning of St. Francis hospital

8/10/1899 - First published information in the Breckenridge Telegram.

8/24/1899 - Building was to be 65 x 40 feet, 2 1/2 stories in height with a basement. A wing to be erected later.

8/31/1899 - Ground was broken for first building.

11/10/1899 - The first patient was admitted (Mrs. Florence Joslin of Mankato, MN)

11/21/1899 - Official dedication at 4 p.m.

--/--/1899 - In five patients were admitted. There were 800 patients in the first 5 years. Dr. Hearn was the first doctor at St. Francis.

--/--/1901 -The first baby was born at St. Francis to Mrs. C. Westphall of Breckenridge.

3/1/1904 - A mass meeting was held with 400 in attendance to discuss the erection of a new hospital building. $5,000 was pledged. The biggest donation of $2,500 came from James J. Hill, the "Empire Builder" of Great Northern Railroad. The cost of erecting the new building, exclusive of furnishings was determined to be about $51,000.

The building was completed through the efforts of 41 men, including 21 bricklayers and 13 carpenters.

11/18/1904 -First hospital charity ball was held to help raise funds for the new structure. Price of tickets was $5.00 per couple and included supper. The event was held at the Wahpeton Opera House. The Great Northern carried dancers to and from Breckenridge. The event raised between $1,000 and $1,200.

3/16/1905 - The building committee held the first official meeting in the new facility.

5/3/1905 - Dedication ceremony was held beginning at 9:00 a.m. 200 guests were present for dinner. Tours were held throughout the day and there was an evening reception with local talent for music. The actual cost of the facility was $82,000.

1/10/1906 - Annual ball was held to raise additional funds.

--/--/1906 - During there was a Typhoid epidemic that resulted in 126 admissions with 2 deaths.

3/5/1906 - The Society of the Red Cross was organized, now known as the St. Francis Auxiliary and Volunteers.

9/--/1908 - The School of Nursing was organized with a two-year training program.

5/3/1910 - The first 12 graduated.

1/30/1913 - The second class graduated from the school after completing a revised three-year training. Later a School of X-ray Technology and a School of Medical Record Technology was established.

--/--/1924 - A new wing was added to the building to include an auditorium, Sister's quarters, and a wing for patients.    


To the present

--/--/1940 - A new structure was being considered due to crowding. The 70-bed hospital was housing as many as 100-120 patients.

--/--/1943 - Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce appointed a committee to determine a course for the future.

2/--/1944 - The committee traveled to Little Falls to discuss with the Franciscan Sisters the building of a new hospital in Breckenridge. $25,000 was to be raised within the community for a 100-bed hospital at a cost of $400,000 when completely equipped and furnished. Of necessity, it would be a post-war building project.

Shortly afterwards, Bishop Bartholome visited Breckenridge and gave approval for the purchase of the O.E. Lien property for $10,000.

3/--/1944 - St. Francis Hospital Building Association was formed and incorporated. Being a community project, on 5/3/1944 a community business meeting was held.

11/2/1944 - $35,000 had been raised.

2/2/1946 - Frank W. Jackson of St. Cloud was secured as the architect. Revised plans called for a $1,250,000 125-bed hospital. A new financing plan called for local contributions of $2,000,000; $650,000 to be raised by the sisters, and $400,000 to be handled by federal grant. At this time approximately $90,000 in cash and pledges was available.

1/28/1950 - $193,682.29 was raised towards the $200,000 goal with $79,085 collected on the North Dakota side and $114,595 on the Minnesota side. The Franciscan Sisters provided $800,000.

1/16/1951 - Bids opened in Little Falls for the construction of the hospital. When completed the total cost was $2,162,142.85.

2/12/1951 - Ground was broken for the new hospital.

10/4/1951 - The cornerstone was laid. Preceding the program, there was a brief dedication of the chapel, after which the cornerstone was laid containing copies of local newspapers, the names of the donors to the hospital, a Bible and other documents.

8/1/1952 - An open house was held at Marian Hall.

9/17/1952 - The hospital proper was dedicated.

9/22/1952 - The first baby was born at the new hospital (Frances Kay Petermann-Jennen)
--/--/1964 - The School of Nursing graduated its last class.


Into the future

This is not the final chapter in the history of St. Francis.

--/--/1976 - A remodeling of the facility was completed.

--/--/1994 - A second remodeling of the facility was completed.

--/--/1987 - St. Francis Home was merged with the Medical Center. 

--/--/1998 -Appletree Court Senior Housing, a 20-unit housing complex was completed.

--/--/2001 - A third remodeling of St. Francis Medical Center was completed.

--/--/2005 -The new St. Francis Healthcare Campus was built.

St. Francis Healthcare Campus offers state-of-the-art equipment to provide the finest in medical care to the citizens of Breckenridge, Wahpeton and the surrounding area.

Current photo of CHI St. Francis Health building in Breckenridge MN

To the sisters who offered their "faith" to the service of others, the community owes a heavy debt of gratitude.