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Warde Hall, the original Mount Mercy Academy and called Mount Mercy, was built in 1923-1924 by the Lightner Bros. Construction Company. William H. Lightner, a partner in the company, lent the Sisters of Mercy some of the money to build the structure that housed the school as it added the junior college it then was. In its early years it housed administration, classrooms, offices, dormitories for students, private rooms for the Sisters of Mercy, and the college chapel. The original chapel in Warde, now called Stello Performance Hall, includes a pipe organ built by the Teller-Kent Company of Erie, Pennsylvania, and installed in 1926. The organ is a two-manual, electric pneumatic instrument with a complete set of couplers and eight ranks. For many, many years the organ was in disrepair and unusable, but it is now back in operation. Mr. Lightner donated and built the grotto and shrine, now known as Our Lady of Sorrows Grotto.
As other buildings were added to the campus, the old Greene Mansion--the home to the Sacred Heart Convent and Academy that predated Mount Mercy Academy--was torn down. Mound Farm, on which the campus is located, was owned by an early settler, Judge George Greene, who has an important place in Cedar Rapids history. The Sisters of Mercy arrived in Cedar Rapids in 1875, purchased part of Mound Farm in 1907, and built what was later renamed Warde Hall in 1956, all the while running schools in the area. Sr. Mary Frances Warde is important to the history of the Sisters of Mercy and to the spirit of the particular group which established Mount Mercy College. She was the first Sister of Mercy to emmigrate to the U.S., just 32 years before the Sisters of Mercy came to Cedar Rapids.
Warde Hall is a symbol of the growth and adaptability of the educational endeavors of the Sisters of Mercy. The independent board of trustees now guiding the college continues to support administration and faculty with the same responsiveness to a changing environment that the Sisters of Mercy employed in developing the infrastructure of the college.
Roth, Mary Augustine. Courage and Change: Mount Mercy College, The First Fifty Years. Cedar Rapids, IA: Stamats Communications, 1980.