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Midcentury design architect Warren Heylman receives Spokane preservation award

UPDATED: Tue., Nov. 6, 2018

Spokane Preservation Advocates presented prominent local architect Warren Heylman with a legacy award at its fifth annual historic preservation awards ceremony Sunday evening.

Heylman, who celebrated his 95th birthday in September, designed more than 20 homes, several apartment buildings and a number of commercial buildings in Spokane throughout his career, including the Parkade, Spokane Regional Health Building and Spokane International Airport – all of which are hallmark examples of midcentury modern architecture.

“It was a remarkable program and it means a lot to me to have my dad honored like that,” said Ann Martin, Heylman’s daughter. “My father is humbled, grateful and certainly appreciated that many people giving him a standing ovation. That was just as lovely as it could have been.”

The nonprofit organization held the free ceremony this year at the Montvale Event Center to recognize efforts of individuals and organizations for their significant contributions to the cultural and historic heritage of Spokane County.

The legacy award specifically recognizes a person whose influence and activities left a lasting, positive impression on the community, while raising the standard of excellence for future generations, said Jacqui Halvorson, SPA awards committee chair.

Heylman was born in Spokane and attended the University of Kansas, where he was a student in the V-12 Navy College Training Program. He graduated in 1945 with a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering.

Heylman returned to Spokane and was employed with G.A. Pehrson, Whitehouse and Price as well as John P. O’Neill before opening his own architectural firm, Warren C. Heylman and Associates, in 1952.

Martin said during the 1950s, her father embraced the mindset of modern architecture and developed clients who believed in his work as well as provided him with opportunities to create iconic sculptures in Spokane.

“It’s my own,” Heylman had said of his architectural style with open floor plans, clean lines and large windows. “I was a little flamboyant. I was the outlandish one.”

Heylman also designed the Whitman County Library in Colfax and two country clubs – the Hangman Valley Golf Course clubhouse and the Liberty Lake Golf Course clubhouse.

The John G.F. Hieber home on the South Hill – designed by Heylman in the 1950s – was recently demolished to make way for a newer residence.

“Some have been razed, some have been retrofitted to serve the new millennium, some still exist today,” Martin said of her father’s buildings. “The ones that exist today still honor the attributes of midcentury modern architectural language.”

Heylman was the recipient of six American Institute of Architecture awards during his career, a Concrete Institute Award for the Parkade, and was inducted into the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows in 1983.

After Heylman retired in 1984, Martin took over operation of the downtown Spokane firm – now titled Heylman Martin Architects. And, although Heylman is retired, he still maintains a presence in the office.

Martin’s favorite project designed by her father is the Whitman County Library in Colfax.

“The library board has respected that building and altered it very little since it was built,” she said. “I just love that building. I think he likes it, too.”

Spokane Historic Preservation Officer Megan Duvall said Heylman’s work is an integral part of the midcentury architectural movement in Spokane.

“The stories behind Heylman’s buildings certainly add to the history of Spokane,” she said. “The Parkade is an iconic part of Spokane’s skyline. I think his fingerprint will be on Spokane for the next 100 years.”

Others who received SPA awards this year are LaRae Wiley and the Salish School for preservation and education; Dan and Annette Owens for rehabilitation of the Campbell-Jones house in the West Central neighborhood; Pete and Anne Mounsey for preservation work on the Spokane Continental Bakery; Judy Gardner for preservation neighborhood advocate; and Spokane City Councilwoman Lori Kinnear for preservation advocacy.

Kelly Lordan was presented with a preservation founders award and Marsha Rooney received the Joanne Moyer award.

The Cowles family and Centennial Properties – a subsidiary of the Cowles Co., which owns The Spokesman-Review – received a corporate stewardship award and Spokesman-Review photojournalist Jesse Tinsley received a preservation media award.

“This is one of SPA’s most important events during the year because we believe it’s vital to honor those in our community who so painstakingly make the effort to preserve our local historic heritage,” said Halvorson. “These efforts are a labor of love – whether you are spending years doing it yourself, or hiring experts. The criteria, research, craftsmanship and labor that goes into a historic preservation project is immense.”

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