Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Rain 45° Rain
News >  Spokane

Then and Now: The Community Building

The Community Building at 35 W. Main Ave. is the home of the Center for Justice, the Peace and Justice Action League, the Inland Land Trust, Northwest Fair Housing, and other nonprofits. The transformation from a nondescript 1908 retail building on West Main Avenue to a state-of-the-art center based on lifestyle and social justice started in 1999 when attorney Jim Sheehan purchased it.

Before the renovations, the building was home to several businesses over the years. There was Carl H. Trunk’s business that sold used store fixtures, which occupied 35 W. Main Ave. for a dozen years until 1939.

Kent Edwin New and Used Furniture, later to become Kent Antiques, took over around 1941 and stayed for a decade. In 1953, Ketchum and Son Wholesale Dry Goods took over the space and stayed until around 1980.

There were no rooms to rent on the upper floors of the three-story building as were found in many other downtown buildings. The upstairs usually served as manufacturing, office or warehouse space for whatever business was in the storefront space below.

A few other businesses stayed for a short time and in 1989, the old building was vacant. But in 1994, Birkebeiner Brewery, one of Spokane’s earliest outposts for the craft beer craze, opened there and featured an all smoke-free environment long before state law outlawed smoking indoors.

Sheehan, one of the attorneys who founded the nonprofit Center For Justice, inherited a large sum of money from a relative and purchased the building in 1999. Eventually he added the nearby Saranac Hotel to the complex and a large one-story former garage to the east of that. He renovated the entire complex with the latest technology in energy, water conservation, and sustainable practices.

Most importantly, Sheehan brought together organizations working on issues of justice and social change in one place. Besides his own Center for Justice, the building is home to the Peace and Justice Action League, Save Our Wild Salmon, Spokane Riverkeeper and several other groups. Sheehan also turned the Goodyear tire store at Browne and Main into the Main Market Coop. He recently opened the Saranac Commons, which has a restaurant, bakery, coffee shop and other independent businesses.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter

Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.