Appleton hospital honors its past, present and future with mural

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 4:11 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - A hundred and twenty-one years ago this week Appleton’s first hospital opened. It’s grown to be what is now Ascension St. Elizabeth. And the hospital is celebrating its anniversary in an artsy way.

After more than 120 years Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital continues to live its mission to provide the best and safest care while delivering on its promise to not forget the poor and most vulnerable. So, as the hospital celebrated its anniversary this week, it also unveiled a 40 foot mural that tells the past, present and future of the hospital.

“I think it’s popping. I think it really tells a wonderful story and I think people will be very impressed,” says Mary Beth Nienhaus.

The Appleton native and philanthropist speared-headed the project with the Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation.

According to Nienhaus, “St. Elizabeth Hospital has a rich tradition and I think it’s really important to maintain and to share it.”

That tradition, as the mural painted by local artist Kelly Wyngaard depicts, started on November 19, 1899, in an 11-room wooden house. Four Franciscan sisters from St. Louis worked with the community and elected leaders to raise enough money to open the hospital.

Following the mural, as time went on, the buildings that housed the hospital changed, as well as the medicines and instruments that were used inside. The mural is a celebration of that heritage, both through religious items and medical artifacts.

“It’s great to tell that story and I think history informs our journey and helps understand those that have come before us and what we’re here to do today and into the future,” says Chad Hershner with the Ascension St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation.

A permanent fixture in the Madison Street walk the mural will be a trip down memory lane as well as a history lesson for years to come.

Hershner adds, “What’s great is that it’s such a visible space so when we have visitors in the hospital it will be on prime location where they can stop and see the mural.”

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