Delta once had a monastery, though it was in use for only five years in that capacity. Construction of the monastery was begun in March, 18999, when representatives of the Servite Order purchased an entire block in the Garnet Mesa subdivision at the top of Third Street hill for $1,000. The building was 57 feet across the front, 60 feet deep, two stories high, with 17 rooms. The walls were 18 inches thick. The building was competed in August, 1899, and was referred to as the Monastery of St. Juliana, with the religious community of the Servite Order as the occupants. This particular monastery was built as a training school for new priests who had come west due to their poor health. In those times, the majority of settlers were coming west to be cured of consumption (tuberculosis), and Delta County was widely advertised in the East as an ideal climate for that purpose.
Unfortunately, Delta’s climate did little to cure the tubercular monks, and three or four had died within the first few years. They are buried in the Delta Cemetery. By 1904, whether for climate or financial reasons, the Servite Order concluded that they could no longer maintain the monastery for its original intended purpose. In addition, the quiet solitude which prevailed when the monastery was built was now being interrupted by new settlers building homes near the site of the monastery.
The final mass at the monastery was conducted by Friar Burke on December 22, 1904. The building and grounds were subsequently sold to the school district for $5,000. The school district never did use the building, though the grounds were used for basketball and football athletic events for several years.
In 1908, the school district, keeping most of the grounds, sold the monastery to Charles P. Nutter as a residence for his family, which then included five young girls. The sixth daughter, Stella, had already married Delta attorney Millard Fairlamb. Each girl had two rooms: one for sleeping and one for their closet. (The monastery had no closets.) The small chapel became a living room and the chancel became their library.
John Calhoun purchased the monastery in 1946 and remodeled it into apartments. It served this purpose for only four years, and was sold to Lawrence and Doris Schwartz, who created Schwartz Nursing Home, a convalescent home for the sick. When John and Ruth Harold purchased the nursing home in 1967, they continued to operate the facility as a convalescent home. They changed the name to Harold Nursing Home. By 1973, the nursing home was unable to meet newer state requirements for nursing homes, and the facility was closed. It was finally torn down in 1981.
The carved stone name plaque which was part of the original monastery and was located on the front of the building between two second-story windows, now resides in our museum also has a wooden wheel chair with a cane seat, believed to have been used in the monastery when it was occupied by the Servite Order. The wheel chair was donated to the museum shortly before the nursing home was closed.
Director, Delta County Historical Society and Museum