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State preservation panel says parks listing not ready

Historic preservation agents sent Spokane back to work on its effort to list the city’s signature parks and boulevards on historic registers.

Spokane’s Park Board is seeking listings on the local, state and national historic registers to document the deep history of the city’s wide-ranging park system that includes work by the renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape firm.

On Thursday, the Washington State Advisory Council on Historic Preservation told the city it needs to assemble more documentation, in large part because of the significance of the Olmsted plan and the way it was implemented.

The council voted 7-0 to postpone action on a group of four park nominations submitted by the city.

Spokane may be the best example in Washington of the use of Progressive and City Beautiful movements embodied by the Olmsted Brothers, said preservation council member Rob McCoy.

Their work is found all over the U.S., including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland and Walla Walla.

Paul Mann, chairman of the state preservation council, said Spokane will be able to set a standard for other cities seeking to document their Olmsted legacies. He is from Spokane.

The nomination was 72 pages long and accompanied by separate nominations for Lincoln Park, Manito Park and High Drive park and parkway.

Kristen Griffin, Spokane’s historic preservation officer, said in an interview that the city is seeking to establish an umbrella listing for the Olmsted park system, and then list individual parks and features under it in subsequent nominations.

Documenting that history under government guidelines is a complex process, Griffin said.

But once completed, it will be useful for future park management as well as historic interpretation and education, Griffin said.

In other action, the council approved nominations to the state register and recommendations to the national register for the Ridpath Hotel, Finch School, the Germond Block, the Garland Theater, the Bauer House, the Hill-Hilscher House and the Anderson House, all in Spokane.

They approved the same actions for the Pend Oreille County Courthouse, which would be the second building in Newport to be listed on the historic register.