The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta  

Saint Mary's Healthcare System

1230 Baxter Street
Athens, Georgia 30606
Web site:

Saint Mary's is a private, non-profit health care system operated without any tax or financial support from the city, the county or the Church. It is operated under the auspices of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


The hospital was organized by two Athens physicians, Dr. H. M. Fullilove and Dr. J. P. Proctor. With the demise of both doctors the hospital had been inherited by their widows, who had difficulty in operating it, so it had closed in 1935. Father Barr, the pastor of Saint Joseph's Catholic Church, at the request of parishioners, began negotiations to purchase the hospital from Mrs. Fullilove. On October 14, 1937, he reported to Bishop O'Hara that she had agreed to sell the hospital for $30,000 cash and a $10,000 promissory note.

Bishop O'Hara then invited the Missionary Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to come to Athens to assume administration of the new hospital. Upon their arrival, they were met at the train station by Father Barr and a committee of parishioners who brought them to the rectory where the ladies of the parish gave them breakfast. The women of Saint Joseph's had also equipped and stocked the kitchen of the hospital convent with appropriate food and cooking utensils.

When the renovation of the hospital was completed, it was dedicated by Bishop O'Hara on Sunday, July 10, 1938. The ceremony was held on the front lawn of the hospital, which was then located on Milledge Avenue. It was one of the first times that large numbers of Athenians had participated in a Catholic ceremony.

In order to assist the sisters in their work of caring for the sick of the Athens area, the women of Saint Joseph's organized the Saint Mary's Hospital Auxiliary on April 27, 1939. Mrs. T. H. McHatton was elected the first president.