It is one of Spokane's most prominent estates, the grand Glover Mansion situated on the South Hill right off Eighth Street, renowned for its architectural beauty and elaborate weddings. Soon, however, marriages will no longer be the only agenda served by this patriarch of the Spokane community. The mansion's current owner, Neila Poteshman, is starting a Healing Arts Center, and she hopes the calm atmosphere of the old house will appeal to healers and teachers.
"It's really about giving back to the community," says Poteshman, "I wanted to take this property and turn it into a place to unite people." She says she loves Spokane and its citizens: "It's the people who make this place."
Poteshman is hoping to fill the 11 office or clinic spaces she's got available at the mansion with people who practice some type of healing or medicine.
Weddings and events will continue to be held on weekends and evenings, during the weekdays the mansion will be devoted to the healing arts, with the first floor reserved for workshops and seminars.
A licensed massage therapist, Terrie Calkins, and a counselor, W. Sagen Smith currently reside in offices located in the mansion.
"It's like coming home again," Smith says about moving to the Glover Mansion. "It's conducive to what I do. I need a quiet setting."
Smith's counseling is focused on Hakomi body-centered therapy. Hakomi is a Hopi Indian word for 'how we stand in relation to ourselves and others,' and as a therapy form, it focuses on getting in touch with what the body is saying.
"My purpose is trying to get the person to go inside their body in search of sensations and exploring what has happened there," says Smith. "For me, the body holds the meaning."
Smith and Calkins have just recently moved to the mansion. Smith had previously been at the Marycliff house, but the building was sold. It can be hard for smaller business owners to find a permanent location, which is not threatened by either further development or the possibility of demolition. The Glover Mansion is already part of the National Register of Historic homes, and Poteshman worked to get it on the Local Historic Preservation Register so it cannot be destroyed.
"If I hadn't done that, the place would probably be a wonderful parking lot," Poteshman says.
The Glover has been part of Spokane since famous architect Kirtland Cutter, who came to Spokane Falls in 1886, built it in 1888. Cutter had studied art in London, Paris and Rome, and after the large fire in Spokane in 1889, he became determined to design some of Spokane's reconstruction projects. Even though he did not have formal architectural training, Cutter left multiple Spokane landmarks behind, including the Chronicle Building, the Spokane Club, the Davenport Hotel and the Campbell House. His influence reached as far as England, but the majority of his work was in the Inland Northwest.
While at his first job in Spokane's First National Bank, Cutter was introduced to James Glover, a prominent banker and one of the founding fathers of Spokane. Glover hired Cutter to design and build a house for him and his wife. The Glover Mansion cost $35,000 to build and originally sat on seven acres of land. The elaborate mansion was 15,000 square feet and had 22 rooms. It also had three bathrooms and was the first house in Spokane to have indoor plumbing.
In 1893, Glover lost the mansion, which eventually ended up in the hands of Patrick Welch. In 1943, after 35 years as the home of the Welch family, the Glover Mansion was sold to the Unitarian Church, which later built a chapel on the property.
Poteshman had the idea for a Healing Arts Center when she purchased the Glover Mansion from the Unitarian Church in 1991, but the mansion needed costly repairs. Holding weddings there was profitable, so Poteshman put her plans for the center on hold. The idea did not resurface until she was considering what to do with the house on the weekdays.
As a result of her counseling/psychology and expressive arts therapy degree, Poteshman has met many colleagues over the years who were interested in a healing arts center as well, and she hopes healthcare professionals such as acupuncturists, chiropractors and holistic medicine practitioners will move into the Glover.
The place is also perfect for hosting workshops and retreats, but most importantly the place is ready.
"It's always been hard to find usable office space. Everything's already here, so they use their space however they want," Poteshman says, "It's really a shared environment."
Poteshman can't wait to see her original dream for the Glover come true and for the big old house to take on its new purpose.
"No one is here for the money; they all love this place," Poteshman says. "You don't own big, old houses, they own you."