The Garland Neighborhood is such a a fun, artsy area. There's been an proliferation of murals-clockwork owls, Vincent Van Gogh, graffiti inspired craft supplies at Sew EZ Too and more. I visit the area often thanks to my love for knitting supplies, Spokane Art School, and milk shakes!
Hillyard is a charming neighborhood with a gritty rail yard past. On Market Street you can see plenty of historic buildings as well as a multitude of murals. In this painting, my eye was caught by the combination of the bull's eye sign and the vintage minty-green building wall!
I subscribe to the Spokane Journal of Business and I learned from their email newsletter that the Otis Hotel has been bought by a real estate developer who is planning on renovating the Otis into a boutique hotel associated with the Hotel Indigo brand. I'd seen the building and its awesome sign multiple times while I was out and about downtown over the past year and thought, "I need to paint that!" Hearing that a renovation was in the works was the motivation I needed to capture this historic beauty before the new owners start making big changes. I'm sure, I sound like a broken record at this point, but I hope they keep or somehow incorporate the sign into the new project! Where do unwanted vintage signs go? I know Las Vegas has a museum of neon for all their old neon signs. It'd be great if there was a museum of vintage signage for these venerable signs to go to!
The historic Davenport Hotel is a grand dame of downtown Spokane. Rescued from dereliction by Walt Worthy, it is a centerpiece of our city. Every year for the holidays, the Davenport host a fundraiser for the Spokane Symphony called Christmas Tree Elegance where decorated Christmas trees and delightful goodies fill the upper balconies and you can buy raffle tickets for the chance to win one. Gorgeous and festive as those trees all are, I still think my favorite tree is the big one in the center of the hotel atrium.
Spokane is a town of trains. Grain, oil, coal, and more. Beautiful Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane used to be a giant rail yard, so did trendy Kendall Yards. Hillyard, a neighborhood to the north and east of downtown is named after "Hill's Yard", another rail yard. Trains are still alive and active in many parts of the city, as seen in the raised bridges at the base of Sunset Hill, running through downtown, and most particularly, to the east of the city out to the edge of the valley where grain elevators pop up along Spague, like giant grey mushrooms. I used to work out not far from the Spokane Fair Grounds and stopped for train crossings was fairly common when I was out running errands. I often drove over the Fancher bridge to the Parkwater Post Office and always enjoyed seeing the Yardley train yard to the east of the bridge and the Parkwater Yard on the west side.
On the other side of the bridge, I'd always admired the brick buildings in the yard. They looked like they had a story. Hearsay says that this large building here used to be a blacksmithry, where repairs were done on site for the trains. This yard has been in use for around 100 years! It is also said that these brick buildings are original Northern Pacific Railroad structures, but I don't have a good source for that so, I don't know if it is true. Are there any train historians out there? If so, please contact me, I'd love to learn more! Especially because I heard a rumor that all the bricks used to build these structures were once used as ballast in old ships! (What a romantic notion!).
I first noticed Mt. St. Michael's on my daily commute down the new North-South Corridor. It perches on a hill overlooking the highway like a large brick layer cake, down to the white architectural "frosting". Mt. St. Michael's has been on that location in 1878 and, according to the official website the area was primarily used as a farm, feeding Gonzaga University from 1881 to 1915. It was used as a training ground for Catholic priests and in 1915 they started building a scholasticate to educate and train Jesuits, which had to be closed in 1968 as the number of Jesuits entering service dropped off dramatically. Another fun fact is that the seismograph from Gonzaga was moved into the basement of Mt. St. Michael's in 1930 and was an important source of data for seismologists. In 1977, Mt. St. Michael's was bought from the Jesuits by the Congregation of Mary Immaculate Queen. Today, there is a convent of Marian Sisters, a k-12 school, chapel, small historical museum, and large library. It is the only place in Spokane that I know of where you can hear Mass in the original Latin as the organization is run by sedevacantists, who do not adhere to the changes in the Catholic church since Vatican II.
I spent an enjoyable few hours wandering Mt. St. Michael's on a hot summer afternoon. The view from the top of the bluff that it is perched on is incredible. I will have to go back at some point and paint the land stretching out below!
In other news-I'll be at the South Perry Street Fair this upcoming Saturday from 10 am-8 pm. Come by and say hi! I'd love to talk to you!