The Right Rev. Edward Makin Cross came from Minnesota to be the third bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Spokane diocese in 1924. He proposed a cathedral that would symbolize the church to the whole region.
St. James Church, St. Peter’s Church and All Saints Cathedral would sell their respective properties and combine to fill the new church. The diocese commissioned architect Harold C. Whitehouse, a church member, to design a Gothic cathedral in the English tradition. Builder Fred Phair laid the stone, which came from Washington, Idaho and Indiana.
The main church was built at East 12th Avenue and Grand Boulevard between 1925 and 1929. There was no transept, tower or chancel yet, and those would have to wait until after the Great Depression and World War II. Work continued in 1948 and was completed as Cross finished his service as bishop in 1954.
The cathedral has a 4,000-pipe organ and a 49-bell carillon in the tower that can be heard after Sunday services. The church is known for its spectacular stained-glass windows and symbols of church history, such as heraldic shields of Glastonbury and Salisbury in England. The reredos, or altarpiece, was carved by sculptor Arcangelo Cascieri, of Boston.
The church is open to visitors Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and guided tours are available. According to the church website
, the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is one of the few examples of classic Gothic architecture in the United States.
– Jesse Tinsley
Photo Archive photo
1932: An aerial view shows part of the south side of Spokane. The most prominent structure in the image is St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral. The site of the cathedral was dedicated in 1925 and consecrated in October 1929.
Jesse Tinsley photo
Present day: The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist sits at the corner of Grand Boulevard and East 12th Avenue on Spokane’s South Hill.