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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Wonder Bread bakery building goes on historic register

The old brick bakery building that was home to Wonder Bread has won a spot on the Spokane Register of Historic Places.

Spokane City Council members unanimously approved the listing on Monday.

It is part of a planned $12 million restoration and renovation to convert the bakery complex into a combination of uses - an artisan food court on the main floor, office space above that and a glassed-in roof plaza on top.

The developers working under the Wonder Spokane LLC plan to meet with the Spokane Historic Landmarks Commission on design review.

The plans come amid redevelopment efforts of properties along the north bank of the Spokane River.

Last month Spokane developer Larry Stone unveiled a $60 million project to build two 13-story tower with hotel rooms, apartments, condos, office and retial space and underground on the old YWCA property overlooking the falls.

And across Monroe Street to the west is the ongoing Kendall Yards project.

The landmarks commissioners are expected to offer advice on the best way to capture property tax incentives through the special valuation program that is available under the local register for the Wonder Bread building redevelopment.

Pete Mounsey, a leader in the LLC, said that the special valuation incentive was a key to making the project pencil out.

“It is a very expensive project,” he said.

The LLC bought the property last September for $3 million.

“I think it will be a pretty cool project,” said Megan Duvall, Spokane’s historic preservation officer.

The building is formally known as he Spokane-Continental Bakery Building, which was actually a complex of four buildings that were erected over the years starting in 1909.

Demolition of a mismatched block building at the southeast corner of Lincoln Street and Mallon Avenue was continuing on Monday to make room for additional parking.

That smaller building had been a thrift bakery outlet for years and more recently a bail bond office.

The bakery building is mainly oriented along Broadway Avenue between Lincoln and Post streets near the upper Spokane Falls.

Maybe its best-loved products were Wonder Bread and Hostess cupcakes, which were produced until 2000.

They were among a bunch of bread and confectionary lines to come out of the plant over the years.

The historic register nomination said that the bakery sold its products over a wide part of the Inland Northwest; eastward to central Montana; and southward into northwest Oregon.

The earliest building in the complex was designed by architect Albert Held.

The complex, which is largely unaltered, is considered significant as an example of a historic industrial/commercial building and because of the architecture.

Additions and modifications came in 1917, 1920, 1947 and 1956.

The 1920 addition suffered a fire in 1947, which resulted in changes to its original look.

The business started as the Sengfelder Bakery & Confectionery Co. downtown in 1887 and then became the Spokane Bakery.

That business was purchased in 1907 by two German immigrants, brothers David and Max Ackerman, who moved the bakery to its location on the North Bank.

In 1925, the facility was purchased by Continental Baking Co.

Continental operated bakeries in 100 locations across the country.

Labels off the production lines included Holsum Bread, Tip-top, Betsy Ross, Butternut Bread, Ackerman’s Daily Cakes and Buttercup Ice Cream.

At one point, International Telephone & Telegraph owned the bakery as a subsidiary which was called ITT Continental Baking Corp., according to the nomination.

In 1995, Interstate Bakeries Corp. bought the facility.

Early on, the expanding bakery was able to produce 5,000 loaves an hour, the nomination said.

The 1909 building at Mallon and Post Street “features a brick parapet with a brick corbelled cornice and dentil course,” according to the nomination.

The 1917 addition to the west was designed to match the brickwork.

“One of the most popular products produced by the Spokane-Continental Bakery was Wonder Bread, a ‘signature”’company product, the nomination said.

“Many Spokanites fondly remember driving by the Spokane-Continental Bakery Building and almost ‘tasting’ the tantalizing aroma of freshly baked bread vented from the bakery’s warehouse,” according to the nomination.