The statue of the mother of Jesus--with marble tears falling from her downcast eyes, an "Immaculate Heart," and a rosary--stood for decades at the entrance to Mercywood Sanitarium just west of Ann Arbor. "We don't really know where she originally came from," says Arnet's president Caryl Arnet, "but most likely Italy, as Italians were master craftsmen in monuments around the turn of the century."
Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924 to help those suffering from mental illness, Mercywood quickly grew from nine to forty beds with the 1926 opening of a hospital building on the eighty-acre site on Jackson Road. It operated there for sixty years and grew to more than 100 beds before moving to a new building on the Saint Joseph Mercy Health System campus east of Ann Arbor in 1986; Mercywood closed in 1994 after insurers drastically reduced payments for in-patient mental health care.
Caryl Arnet says the statue came to the family business in 1986. Her father, Larry Arnet, who had run the business since 1953, got a call from the contractor who was leveling the old hospital, which was just down Jackson from Arnet's shop. He removed the arched black wrought iron entrance sign, the statue, and its pedestal.