The Chancery

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2020

Location: Spokane, Spokane County

The Chancery holds a position of prominence in downtown Spokane as an anchor structure in the National Register Riverside Historic District on what has been described as “Spokane’s most beautiful street.” Originally built in 1910 as the Western Union Life Insurance Building, the property was designed by famed architect Kirtland Cutter, also responsible for other noted Spokane buildings such as the Davenport Hotel, Patsy Clark Mansion, Spokane Club, and the Monroe Street Bridge—not to mention the Washington Trust’s very own Stimson-Green in Seattle. In 1924, the building underwent a significant expansion and redesign by another renowned Washington architect, Gustav Pehrson.

The building was home to a number of life insurance companies until 1966, when it was sold to Spokane’s Roman Catholic Diocese, serving as the diocese headquarters for over 40 years. In 2006, the Diocese sold the property, remaining as tenants in the building until last year. The current owner, which controls the entire block on which the Chancery Building is located, is presently evaluating redevelopment scenarios. No determination has been made regarding the future of the Chancery Building, but Spokane Preservation Advocates (SPA), our local advocacy partner, are hopeful the building can serve as a prominent feature of the redeveloped block, keeping the street one of the Spokane’s most beautiful. The Washington Trust is looking forward to collaborating with SPA, the owners, and other friends in Spokane to help work toward a positive preservation outcome.

Rookery, Mohawk, and Merton Buildings

Status: Lost

Year Listed: 2003

Location: Spokane County

The Rookery (1933), Mohawk (1915), and Merton (1890) buildings sat on one block in the heart of downtown Spokane. The Merton, former home of the Spokane Spokesman newspaper, was part of the rebuilding effort following the Great Fire of 1889. The terra cotta-ornamented Mohawk housed Dodson’s Jewelry, a longtime Spokane merchant still extant in another location. The Rookery served as Spokane’s premier example of Art Deco terra cotta artistry. These properties were mostly vacant and were demolished in 2004.

Five Mile Schoolhouse

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 2003

Location: Spokane County

The Five Mile Schoolhouse, formerly known as the Sky Prairie Schoolhouse, was built in 1937 by the federal Works Progress Administration. It’s a classic two-room, two-story brick schoolhouse, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Closed after 1969, it was used as a storage facility by the Mead School District. The property was neglected, with windows boarded. The school is now owned by the State of Washington. Five Mile Schoolhouse is a community gathering place and a potential space for all types of art, educational, recreational, and public/neighborhood activities. The schoolhouse reopened in 2006 after the building was remodeled. It is now home to the Mead Education Partnership Program, an alternative school that combines home schooling with time in the classroom.

Jensen-Byrd Building

Status: Most Endangered Places, In the works!

Year Listed: 2012

Location: Spokane County

Location: Spokane, Spokane County

Returning to the Endangered List for a second time is Spokane’s Jensen-Byrd Building, a visible downtown icon representing the significance of Spokane’s early twentieth century prosperity. At 200,000 square feet and six stories in height, the formidable brick structure stands as the county’s second largest historic warehouse and one of the largest historic buildings in downtown Spokane. Located on the Riverpoint Campus, the base for Washington State University’s operations in Spokane, the building initially faced uncertainty in 2006 as the university prepared to more fully develop the site. Fearing demolition, locally-based Spokane Preservation Advocates (SPA) sought to raise awareness by nominating the Jensen-Byrd Building to that year’s Most Endangered List. Following the inclusion of the structure in the 2006 List, advocates worked with WSU on scenarios designed to retain the Jensen-Byrd Building in the overall redevelopment scheme. After the failure of several redevelopment projects that included an option for rehabilitation, in the fall of 2011 WSU sold the building to Campus Advantage, a Texas-based developer with plans to demolish the Jensen-Byrd Building and construct a new dormitory for the WSU-Spokane campus. This decision was made despite a comparable offer from a local Spokane developer who promised to adaptively re-use the Jensen-Byrd as a dormitory. This action prompted SPA to once again seek Most Endangered status for the structure. While the Jensen-Byrd Building has remained on the Washington Trust’s Watch List since 2006, the organization strongly felt the need to highlight the building once again given the current course of demolition. Recent reports indicate demolition will be delayed until 2013, but overall plans for the site remain unchanged.