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Mount St. Michael’s plans celebration of its history

Sat., Dec. 10, 2011

Mount St. Michael’s, the former Jesuit scholasticate on the bluff overlooking Hillyard, is opening its doors this weekend for a special celebration.

Members of the Mount St. Michael Parish are holding a grand opening celebration of a new Heritage Center and Museum.

The event is today from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 and free for children 12 and younger.

The heritage center will be a collection point for the rich history of the Collegiate Gothic Revival building, which opened in 1916.

“It’s time to share the history of this building and the early settlement of the Pacific Northwest with everyone,” said Cassie Binder, director of the heritage center.

During its construction, the Jesuits had a 1,100-foot tram built up the mountain to haul bricks and other construction material.

Entering the building is like walking back in time. For more than 50 years, the scholasticate was home to students and Jesuit brothers, who operated a self-contained farm.

A drop in seminarians resulted in closure of the facility in 1968. Religious operations were consolidated at the Gonzaga University campus.

A decade later, the facility was sold and became home for a traditional Latin Rite congregation.

Today, the Congregation of Mary the Immaculate runs a Catholic parish, school and convent. The nuns wear distinctive blue habits.

A well-adorned chapel on the second floor serves as the parish church.

Exhibits tracing history of the Jesuits in the Spokane area will be part of the grand opening. A children’s area will offer hands-on fun such as bread making. The library and its artifacts will be open to the public.

The facility is undergoing preservation work in advance of its centennial celebration starting in 2015. Parish members have been working with community groups.

The Spokane Preservation Advocates organization has been involved and made a $5,000 grant earlier this year to help finance it.

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