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Sisters of Providence sell longtime sisters’ residence to Providence Health & Services-Washington

On January 15, the Sisters of Providence finalized the sale of Mount St. Joseph, a longtime residence for sisters in Spokane, to Providence Health & Services-Washington. The building has two addresses: 9 East 9th
 
Mount St. Joseph, 1997. The original 1932 building at center; Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center is just visible in the background. Providence Archives, Seattle
Avenue and 12 West 9th Avenue, and is the site of the original Rockwood Clinic. It has been owned by the sisters since the Provincial Administration purchased it in 1951.

On Thursday, January 30, there will be a closing ritual in the Mount St. Joseph chapel at 5 p.m. Personal remembrances and stories will be shared by sisters, Providence Associates, current and former Provincial Administration staff members and friends, followed by a blessing of the building by Bishop Blase Cupich, of the Diocese of Spokane.

After the sale, the Sisters of Providence will lease office space at Mount St. Joseph. The chapel will continue to be open for daily Mass.

For decades, scores of Sisters of Providence called the complex their home.  The sale comes on the heels of the closure one year ago of the building’s fourth-floor health-care unit, the infirmary for sisters in Spokane since 1957. “With fewer sisters needing skilled nursing care, the Mount St. Joseph health- care unit needed to be closed,” said Provincial Superior Judith Desmarais, SP. In the fall of 2011, the province’s Leadership Team made the decision to transfer sisters requiring skilled nursing care from Spokane to St. Joseph Residence in West Seattle as space became available. The last sister was moved from the health-care unit in January 2013.  Other Sisters of Providence continue to live in Spokane at Emilie Court and at other locations.

 
Sisters of Providence at Mount St. Joseph, 1956. Providence Archives, Seattle

The Mount St. Joseph building complex is the site of the original Rockwood Clinic, built in 1932 by Dr. William W. Robinson. In that location, he also built his private home and later a wing that expanded the clinic.  Sacred Heart Hospital purchased the buildings and surrounding property in 1941. It initially was home to the hospital’s school of nursing before it was moved next door to what now is called the Gamelin Center.

The Sisters of Providence bought the complex from Sacred Heart Hospital in 1951 and renovated it to connect the two buildings. Senior and retired sisters of the former St. Ignatius Province moved into the building in October of that year, along with offices for the Provincial Administration and an infirmary.  The connecting   structure was a chapel. The sisters named the complex Mount St. Joseph, after St. Joseph, a patron saint of the religious community.

By 1955, there were more sisters living in the building and praying in the chapel than the complex could hold. A new wing was built to the east to house the province headquarters, and other additions included new bedrooms, an infirmary, chapel, kitchen and dining room. The infirmary was on the fourth floor and the chapel on the fifth floor, where the first Mass was celebrated in 1958.

In 1988, there were 55 sisters assigned to live at Mount St. Joseph, 15 sisters in the health-care unit, 10 sisters in the self-care unit, and others living on the second and third floors of the south wing. Renovations over the years provided accommodations for additional offices, a province library, a community room, pantry and television room, laundry facilities on each floor, provincial archives and an area including a large activities room, beauty shop, exercise room and television room.

Providence Health & Services-Washington presently plans to use the building for offices. Purchase price for the building was undisclosed.

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