Paul E. Newport, born in St. Paul, Minnesota, opened Benewah Creamery in St. Maries in 1917. He moved to Spokane in 1922 and set up a processing plant at First Avenue and Washington Street. He bought raw milk from local farmers to produce milk products, cheeses and ice cream.
Before the creation of the "supermarket," Newport operated retail stalls in open markets, where he was one of the independent vendors housed in a single building. His dairy products were premium quality, high in butterfat and milk flavor. His plant used modern sanitary practices, and milk was pasteurized.
Newport may be best remembered for two Spokane buildings shaped like milk bottles, one on Garland Avenue and another downtown on South Cedar Street. These eye-catching buildings, designed by the firm of Whitehouse and Price, were retail outlets for Benewah Creamery products. The Garland Avenue building was built in 1935, and Newport planned a chain of six bottle-shaped stores, though he only completed two.
In 1938, the Creamery opened a new production facility at 408 E. Sprague Ave., a former car dealership. The front of the building housed Benewah Market, a grocery store. Instead of separate dealers for various products, he stocked a wide variety of goods. Newport also introduced paper containers for milk.
Newport was sued for libel in 1941 after hinting that the local dairy association officers got a better deal than their members. In the late 1940s, he pushed back against stricter sanitation codes for small dairies that supplied his milk. His wife, Arley, sued for divorce in 1952, saying he was overly critical.
Newport ran for City Council in 1960 but withdrew at the last minute. He was sued later in 1960 for causing a scene when he accused a shopper of taking a pound of butter. And he scuffled with a dairy inspector who accused him of falsifying paperwork on a cream shipment.
Newport was president of his dairy business until 1969, when his son, Richard, and son-in-law, O.W. Rathbun, took over. "Forty years is too long a time for any man to be in the same job," Newport told The Spokesman-Review. "I don't like that word 'retire.' I'm not retiring. I'm just going to take it easy for awhile to make up for a lot of years working like a beaver."
Newport died in 1970 at age 78. Benewah Creamery's last location closed in 1978.