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Rockwood Nomination Advances To State Panel

The effort to get the Rockwood neighborhood placed on the National Register of Historic Places has cleared its first governmental hurdle, but two steps remain.

Some 330 homes, Hutton Elementary School and one apartment building occupy the 180-acre district in southeast Spokane.

Last month, Spokane’s Historic Landmarks Commission unanimously recommended the nomination of the Rockwood Historic District to the national register.

That recommendation is now at the Washington State Advisory Council for Historic Preservation.

Sally Reynolds, a consultant working on the designation, said the state council is expected to approve the nomination soon and send it to the National Park Service, which could authorize the listing.

Some of the finest residential architecture in Spokane is included along Rockwood Boulevard and Garfield Road.

Stone pillars at Rockwood and 11th Avenue provide a dramatic entrance to the area, which was designed to blend into the natural contour of the slope of the South Hill.

“Establishing a historic district tends to bring a neighborhood together,” Reynolds said.

In the district, 279 buildings are listed as contributing to the historic significance of the district.

With the official designation, homeowners in the district would be more likely to preserve the original character of their homes when they remodel or renovate, Reynolds said.

“But that’s probably not as important as building a community awareness and appreciation for the historical character of the area,” she said.

Streets were laid out according to a design by the Olmsted brothers, who came up with an original plan for the city’s park system.

Open spaces, wide planting strips, curving boulevards and small triangular park areas are found throughout the district.

The historic district includes homes along Rockwood Boulevard from 11th Avenue to Arthur Street and Garfield Road from Rockwood south to 29th Avenue, plus adjacent streets.

“Homes, set well back from sidewalks and behind both evergreens and a dense summer canopy of street trees, range from palatial mansions to bungalows, reflecting styles that were in vogue between 1908 and 1942,” the nomination states.

About 50 homes scattered throughout the district were built after 1950 and are not considered as contributing to the historical character.

Tudor Revival and Colonial Revival are the predominant architectural styles in the district. Later designs include Craftsman, Prairie and French Eclectic styles.

Development was sporadic, but most construction occurred between 1908 and 1915 and again between 1936 and 1942.

Teresa Brum, Spokane historic preservation officer, said residents in the district may want to seek a listing on the local register of historic places. That would require owners to agree to approval of any major remodeling plans to ensure they maintain the homes’ historic character.

Listing homes on the national historic register does not require such agreements, Brum said.

A listing on the local register can be made only through public hearings and a vote of the Spokane City Council, she said, but, if approved, homeowners may be eligible to deduct from property taxes the cost of major renovations.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of area.