The Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, once the Opportunity Township Hall, will get a new roof, a repaired facade and new windows after being awarded $70,000 from the Washington State Legislature for renovations.
The building, constructed in 1912, spent most of it’s life as both a center for government and a gathering place for silent movies, church congregations and was Spokane Valley’s first library. Spokane Valley Heritage Museum director Jayne Singleton said the 108-year-old building is Washington’s last standing township town hall and is also built in the Spanish colonial mission-style revivalist genre of architecture uncommon for this area.
Singleton said she was struck by it the first time she drove past it, before it was a museum, when it was just a unique face in the line of storefronts on Sprague Avenue.
“The more I’ve learned about this building, the more grateful I am to be apart of the efforts to restore this building,” she said.
The Opportunity Township, which was one of several in the area, did many of the services now provided by the city and county, and functioned between 1909 and 1974. When the government that owned it dissolved, the building was given to Spokane County and used as a classroom by the parks department. It was then transferred to the city of Spokane Valley when it incorporated in 2003, which sold it to Spokane Valley Heritage Museum around a year later for $1.
The building is now a museum that has featured stories of apple orchards, Spokane Valley’s historic ties to aircraft and the history of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, who made its ancestral home in the greater Spokane Valley.
The museum is also a repository of documents including century old newspapers, property deeds and other records, which Singleton said is why it was essential for the building to get a new roof. She said the roof hasn’t been a serious issue yet, but it needs to be replaced before there is any risk of damage to the historic documents and items housed there.
Singleton said she worked with Spokane Valley state Sen. Mike Padden to try and get funding for the building and is grateful for both local preservation efforts and the Legislature for funding them.
The museum is closed due in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which Singleton said could impact the construction schedule for the renovations.
“The coronavirus has definitely put a crimp in our plans,” she said.
She hopes the renovations to restore the building’s facade can begin in May.
The museum is also planning to install a granite monument beside the entrance in the front of the building to commemorate its history. The dedication for the 6-foot-tall monument – paid for by a grant from the city of Spokane Valley, and a private donor – will be announced at a later date.
Editor’s note: This story was changed on April 2, 2020 to correct the year of when the Opportunity Township was founded.
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.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.