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Providence buys Mount St. Joseph building from Catholic order

Wed., Jan. 22, 2014, midnight

Providence Health & Services Washington has purchased the Mount St. Joseph building in Spokane from the Sisters of Providence, buying back a property it sold to the Catholic women’s order in the 1950s.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The building, at 9 W. Ninth Ave., will be used as offices by Providence Health, according to a news release.

The building’s history reflects the changing role of the Sisters of Providence in providing health care in Spokane.

Originally built in 1932, the building eventually became both a residence and the first Rockwood Clinic, operated by Dr. William Robinson.

Sacred Heart Hospital purchased the two buildings in 1941. Operated by the Sisters of Providence, Sacred Heart was the largest hospital in the Spokane area at the time.

During the 1940s, the hospital primarily used the buildings as its nursing school.

In 1951, the sisters bought the buildings from the hospital and connected them with a chapel. Mount St. Joseph became their provincial office and a local residence for members of the order. Eventually an infirmary, activities area and other rooms were added.

In 1988, 55 sisters were assigned to live at Mount St. Joseph, along with 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.

Since then, like many Catholic orders, the Sisters of Providence has seen a steady decline in numbers.

The building’s fourth floor was used as a health care unit for Spokane sisters until last year, when the remaining members needing medical care were transferred to a Seattle health care residence.

“With fewer sisters needing skilled nursing care, the Mount St. Joseph health-care unit needed to be closed,” Provincial Superior Judith Desmarais said in a news release.

Approximately two dozen Sisters of Providence live in Spokane, residing at Emilie Court and other locations.

The order will lease office space in the building and continue offering a daily Mass in the chapel.

The order has a closing ritual planned on Jan. 30 in the Mount St. Joseph Chapel, at 5 p.m. On hand to bless the building will be Bishop Blase Cupich of the Spokane Diocese.

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