Work to preserve 20th Century Structures in Spokane

Historic Preservation Office wins $15,000 grant

Julie Happy, 509.625.7773,

Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 10 a.m.

The City of Spokane/Spokane County Historic Preservation Office (HPO) is preparing to inventory dozens of local 20th century structures, thanks to a $15,000 grant awarded by the state Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. The grant will allow the HPO to begin work to preserve and protect at least 50 Mid-20th Century Modern structures in Spokane, many of which may be under threat of demolition from both development pressure and a lack of awareness of their historical significance.

Until now, Spokane has not comprehensively recorded Mid-20th Century Modern residential and commercial buildings or developed preservation priorities for planning and maintaining these historic resources. Spokane is ahead of many other communities in the state, however, with the five Mid-Century Modern buildings it does currently have listed: the Ridpath Hotel (1952), the First National Bank of Spokane (1954), the Joel E. Ferris, II House (1955), the Brooks House (1956) and the Foltz House (1958).

“Modern buildings are now hitting the 50-year mark and without documentation, appreciation and protection, these unique resources could be lost at an accelerated pace,” said Megan Duvall, the City/County’s Historic Preservation Officer. “A comprehensive survey and inventory will help us tell the story of Modern Spokane and both promote and protect these vulnerable resources.”

Spokane has been home to several nationally recognized Modernists, including architects Royal McClure, Thomas Adkison, Kenneth Brooks, Bill Trogdon and Bruce Walker, artist Harold Balazs, and champions of design, Mary Jean and Joel Ferris, who increased awareness and appreciation of modernism in the region.

With the recent interest and push for the documentation of modern architecture and design from Spokane at a local level, the Spokane Historic Preservation Office pursued the opportunity for the grant money to move forward with education and outreach based on the survey effort.

The survey and inventory project of Mid-20th Century Modern structures is expected to be completed by late summer or fall of 2017.