Treatment for substance abuse and mental health is underway inside the historic Snyder mansion at 2118 Blaisdell Ave., where the building serves 190 people.
The former ballroom is a lecture hall, the “loggia” is a women’s lounge, bedrooms are group meeting rooms, and a former nursing home addition provides office space.
NuWay’s original plans called for housing on the site. Executive Director David Vennes said they decided instead to use the mansion for outpatient services.
“It made more sense to move the whole outpatient [program] over here,” he said. “It’s better for the neighborhood.”
Some residents had opposed the original housing plans, saying Whittier already holds a high concentration of supportive housing.
The city of Minneapolis recently marked the property as a local historic landmark, a measure designed to protect and preserve historic portions of the building. The neighborhood’s Whittier Alliance helped secure funding for a historic designation study. A city report said the 1913 mansion is a rare surviving example of early 20th century estates along Blaisdell, Pillsbury and Stevens avenues. Following the Great Depression, the Snyder family and others relocated to smaller-scale country homes on Lake Minnetonka, according to the study, “where they could get by with fewer servants and a more casual style of entertaining.” Many of the Whittier mansions were replaced with apartments, commercial buildings and parking lots in the mid- to late- 20th century.
The home’s original occupants, John Pillsbury Snyder and Nelle Stevenson Snyder, survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, according to the study. They had booked a first-class stateroom following an extensive European honeymoon, and they boarded a lifeboat as the ship sank. The Blaisdell home was a wedding gift from John’s father, who said it would be the “finest home in all of Minneapolis.”
Vennes said NuWay invested more than $500,000 into the building interior and $75,000 into the landscaping, which includes roses on the corner that are picked by passersby.
“Whenever they bloom, they’re gone,” he said.
NuWay serves as a bridge for people leaving high-intensity programs like Hazelden and helps them ease back into the community, Vennes said. He said that for about 30 percent of people, 21-28 days in a high-intensity program isn’t enough recovery time.
“There is a shortage of extended care, longer-term programming available,” he said.
NuWay is celebrating its 50-year anniversary on Sept. 10 with a picnic on the mansion grounds. The community is invited to attend from 3-6 p.m.