Unity opens holistic health center in renovated, iconic tower

rpulley@lsjournal.comSeptember 13, 2013 

  • More information The public is invited to celebrate the restoration of Unity’s tower and the opening of its health center at the Awaken Your Dreams Gala 6 p.m. Sept. 13 in Unity Village’s central courtyard and at an open house from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 14.

Unity Village has reopened its historic and iconic tower, which has gotten a near $6 million renovation to become a holistic health center.

The campus, at Missouri 350 and Colbern Road, is the world headquarters of Unity, a worldwide spiritual movement that was founded in 1889.

The village and 165-foot tower, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, were designed by Rickert Fillmore, a son of Unity founders Myrtle and Charles Fillmore. He had his office on the seventh floor, overlooking hundreds of acres of rolling fields, gardens and its campus with English Cotswild and Italian influences.

The tower, built in 1929, also holds a 100,000-gallon water tank, which serves the village just outside Lee’s Summit.

Over the years, it fell into disrepair. It hadn’t been occupied for 20 years, said Unity CEO Charlotte Shelton, and a chain-link fence restricted access, to keep chunks of stone from falling on visitors.

A few years ago, an anonymous donor put up $3 million to restore the tower and Unity started a capital campaign to raise more money. Its leadership decided it should become a holistic health center. Shelton said the organization was founded on wellness.

Myrtle Fillmore used prayer and affirmations to heal her tuberculosis, Shelton said, and a majority of pray requests to one of its programs, Silent Unity, are for healing.

“It’s just a continuation and deepening of the roots of our founding in 1889,” Shelton said.

The experience starts with the Twelve Powers Prayer Garden, with sculptures by Barry Eisenhart.

The floor plans for the Awaken Whole Life Center follow a theme, starting on the lower levels with physical assessments and on each floor incorporating more of the body and mind, with activities such as yoga and meditation, said Tara Hitzig, general manager.

It’s based somewhat on the seven chakras; a chakra is a point in the body that is center of life force in the Hindu traditions.

The 43-member staff will include professionals from a medical doctor, who is also on staff at Truman Medical Center, a naturopathic physician, chiropractors, licensed psychologists, massage therapists, acupuncturists to spiritual counselors.

Massages and detox-acupuncture will be offered among other services.

Hitzig said while Unity has an emphasis on spirituality, the assessments are science-based. For example, the center is equipped with a treadmill with instruments to measure oxygen used, and uses standardized psychological tests.

“The sixth and seventh floors are more spiritual and transcendent,” Hitzig said, those rooms are for yoga, Tai Chi, meditation or group prayer. There’s a Om Meditation Pod, an egg-shaped orb where a person can sit inside and listen to music and watch pastel colors change.

The center will be offering many health and exercise classes and spiritual retreats which will be open to the public. Memberships to regularly use the facility are available or one-time visits for a massage or facials, or other services can be scheduled.

The center is geared to a holistic approach to health through exercise, nutrition and spirit, Hitzig said. If a visitor shows symptoms of a medical condition or others would refer them to their medical practitioners.

The amenities included for the restoration include a fitness center in an adjacent building connected to the tower by a tunnel, that has exercise and weight training equipment and showers.

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