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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Train Station, School Among Sites Urged For Preservation

Barry Sparling fondly recalls the one-room schoolhouse where he attended kindergarten in 1959.

“It was just like ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ You came in the front door and there was the coat room,” the Valley man said. “I remember Mrs. Morgan, my teacher, and the red and white curtains on the windows.”

It’s a memory, and piece of history, he would like to see saved. Like other Spokane County residents who attended historic preservation meetings Thursday at the Argonne Library, Sparling wanted county planners to know just how much he valued his favorite historic spot.

Officials with preservation expertise, including the director of the city/county historic preservation office, answered citizens’ questions about registering sites as historical places. They also collected information for an updated inventory of county historical sites.

“The (current) inventory isn’t cohesive or accessible,” said County Planner Tim Lawhead. And, he said, the county’s current preservation plan doesn’t really have teeth.

But that will change under the Growth Management Act, said Lawhead. The new policy, now being developed, “will have more of a force of law,” he said.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the policy will swing further to the side of protection, Lawhead said. It could go either way. It simply means that whatever new policy the county approves with the help of citizen input will actually be enforceable.

Sparling is among those who would like to increase historical preservation. It was just a few years ago he learned the story of his old schoolhouse’s genesis.

Daniel Courchaine, one of the Valley’s first settlers, built it on Saltese Lake about 100 years ago, Sparling said. Saltese Lake is now Saltese Flats.

At some point, it was moved to its current site, on southeast Progress and Sprague. The school district stopped using it in the 1960s, he said.

Today, its red cedar shakes are faded and brown, Sparling said. He worries that someday, the whole building will disappear.

“There are a lot of (historic) things that no longer exist here,” Sparling said. “I’d like to see (this one) restored.”

Fred Magnussen would like to see the old train station near the corner of Sprague and Argonne brought back to its original glory.

“It’s a cute little white train station,” the Valley man said, “with little benches inside, and a little ticket counter.”

Magnussen still remembers about 35 years ago when cartons of peeping chicks lined the ground near the station. That was when Railway Express used it for shipments.

The Union Pacific and Milwaukee Railroads once used the station, said Magnussen, who believes it is at least 75 years old.

Magnussen now rents the old station and owns land next to it. A former Maytag distributor, he once used the building to store his coin-operated washing machines. Today, he lets a muffler dealer store his wares there.

But what Magnussen would really like to see is the station’s restoration.

“It’s so cute,” he said. “It’s a little eye-catcher.”

, DataTimes

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