After the 1889 fire burned 30 blocks of early downtown Spokane, a series of “fireproof” buildings rose during the following decades. Among them is the stately Columbia Building, which was put on the Spokane Register of Historic Places in a unanimous vote Monday by the Spokane City Council.
Located at 107 S. Howard St., the six-story building was built in the classical revival-style.
“That’s a beautiful building and it’s in such good shape,” said Linda Yeomans, the historic preservation specialist who wrote the Columbia Building’s Nomination.
The building has fabulous architecture and is so strong and straight, said Yeomans.
The property embodies distinctive characteristics of the period with it’s steel frame, flat roof, and decorative scroll, as cited in nomination documents. The building is also considered significant because of the early owner and architects.
Judge George Turner commissioned the building and it was completed in 1907. Turner was an early pioneer of Spokane. Turner helped write the Washington State Constitution in 1889 and was “prominent in shaping the destinies of the state and nation,” according to his 1932 obituary.
Turner was an associate Washington Supreme Court justice (1885-88) and a United States senator (1897-1903). He also practiced law throughout his life with various partners in Spokane.
Turner commissioned the building after the 1889 fire. In the era to follow, the rebuild of the city was focused on fireproof construction, using brick, stone and steel.
The building was lauded and applauded by many as one of Spokane’s first fireproof buildings, said Yeomans.
“The building is a really good example of that architectural period and how they were developing a building from wood to brick,” said Yeomans.
Turner hired architects, Herman Preusse and Julius Zittel, in 1905 to design the building. Zittel and Preusse were recognized among Spokane’s best early architects. The pair worked together from 1887 to 1910.
Preusse was the first known architect to move to the Spokane area in 1882, according to nomination documents. He designed over 100 buildings from 1882 to 1918.
Zittel was the architect for Washington state, working on many state buildings. In a 1927 Spokesman-Review article Zittel said, “There is no spot on earth like Spokane.”
The building was extensively remodeled in the early 1970s to support new technology along with modernizing the storefronts on the street level.
Currently, tenants include Fusion Juice of Spokane and the Wave Island Sports Grill and Sushi Bar.
Yeoman plans to work on the Columbia Building nomination documents for both the state and national historic registries.
Franklin Elementary School was also added to the Spokane Register of Historic Places.
The 1909 school was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. A $26 million restoration and renovation was completed in January. Architect Loren L. Rand designed the building in a Romanesque Revival style.
The building carries both architectural and cultural significance for Spokane Public Schools.
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