Leonard Round Barn

Status: SAVED!

Year Listed: 1992

Location: Pullman, Whitman County

Early in 1992, the Trust began offering assistance toward saving the T.A. Leonard barn built near Pullman in 1917. Barn preservation was a growing concern statewide, and this was one of Washington’s few remaining round barns – and a unique design within that small typology. With their self-supporting roofs, smaller amount of wall space, and circular feeding and cleaning methods, round barns were briefly believed to be more efficient and modern, and less expensive to build. The Leonard Barn, documented by the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1985 (photos and drawings), is unusual for its exceptionally high roof, wooden rather than concrete base, and large number of windows.

Placement on the Trust’s Most Endangered list in 1992 brought additional local as well as statewide attention to the Leonard barn. The owner wanted to re-roof it and make it more structurally secure but lacked funds. Board members Kit Garrett from Spokane and Don Heil from Pullman, along with executive director Becky Day, met with the owner to tour the barn and offer help publicizing its challenges. The next year, the Trust proudly granted $5000 won through the LU Cookie Company’s “Restore What’s Gone Before” campaign to re-create the missing cupola, the first step in sealing out the elements.

Still, it took many years to assemble funding for fully rehabilitating the barn, which  remained on the Most Endangered list until 1996. The major renovation completed in 2001 included repairs to the beams, windows, and floors, shingle replacement, and fresh paint. The Leonard Barn is recognized in the Oxford World Vernacular Encyclopedia.

St. Elmo’s

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2020

Location: Palouse, Whitman County

Originally built in 1888 as the railroad-boom Palouse Hotel, St. Elmo’s is a major component and visual anchor of the Palouse Main Street Historic District which was established in 1986. With its mansard roof and metal shingles, it is one of the few existing buildings in rural eastern Washington in the Second Empire style. The current owners purchased the building in 2018 with plans to rehabilitate, but after discovering more structural issues than anticipated, decided to demolish. Luckily, community members have convinced the owners to put the building back on the market to give someone else the chance to save one of Palouse’s most iconic buildings. A core group has formed the Friends of St. Elmo’s, which nominated it to our Most Endangered Places list and is working to raise awareness of the need to save St. Elmo’s.

St. Ignatius Hospital

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2015

Location: Colfax, Whitman County

St. Ignatius opened in 1894 as Whitman County’s first hospital. The substantial brick building underwent alterations in both 1917 and 1928, which removed portions of the Victorian trappings and left the building with a more modern, symmetrical appearance. By 1964, the hospital board decided to relocate the hospital, leaving the existing building to serve as an assisted care facility. The last residents moved out of the facility in 2000, and since that time it has sat abandoned. Despite over a decade of neglect and exposure to the elements, the building retains solid structural bones. The building is presently for sale, but redevelopment will require a complete overhaul of the entire infrastructure and building systems. City officials are supportive and welcome the potential economic impact rehabilitation could have for the area. Despite some inquiries, the owner has yet to receive any viable offers for rehabilitation.

LaCrosse Rock Houses and Station

Status: Most Endangered Places

Year Listed: 2016

Location: La Crosse, Whitman County

Local businessman Clint Dobson is credited with building the unique collection of structures known as the LaCrosse rock houses and station between 1934 and 1936. The project included three houses, three cabins, and a service station with all buildings prominently featuring basalt stones collected from the surrounding fields. Dobson was not a master stone mason, rather, basalt stone was the most readily available material in the area during the Great Depression.

Local farm hands, workers, and railroad crews used the houses and cabins as rental units, while the station offered a service and repair shop. Although the structures have not been in use since the 1960s, amazingly all but one of the houses remain. Those remaining buildings, however, are in critical danger of collapse if they do not receive repairs to stabilize and secure the stone and structural elements.

Hope for rehabilitation increased when a local family gifted the property to LaCrosse Community Pride, which enjoys a strong track record of successful community development projects in town. Following the closure of the town’s only grocery store, LaCrosse Community Pride embarked on an effort to re-invent that site as an ongoing enterprise and community center. Today, the building houses a new grocery store, the local library, a community meeting space, and two rentable office spaces. The group also organized efforts to return a bank to the town when the local branch closed: they purchased the bank building, secured a new tenant to run the bank, and are currently working to find another tenant for the adjacent café.

The Washington Trust was proud to support LaCrosse Community Pride in rebuilding one of the stone cabins through a Valerie Sivinski Fund grant. Now they are fundraising for the rehabilitation of the remaining buildings and just last month were recommended to receive a state Heritage Capital Grant to realize their vision of creating a heritage museum and Ice Age floods center in the service station along with places for visitors to stay in the homes and bunkhouses.