Welcome to Historic Fort George Wright

Fort George Wright Tour - Story 1

By the end of the 19th century, after generations of hard frontier living and occasionally violent interactions with the native population, the United States had firmly established itself in the northwest. Many of the frontier forts and military bases in the area had outlived their usefulness. Therefore congress authorized funds for the construction of a military post in Spokane in 1896. The new post would replace the old and decaying Fort Spokane, Fort Walla Walla, and Fort Sherman in Coeur d'Alene. Residents of Spokane had high hopes for the new base, imagining it to be a financial boon for the area on the order of $20 per capita annually. Many donated land and money toward its construction, including the Northern Pacific Railway, The Washington Water Power Company and the prominent attorneys J.W. Binkley and J.R. Taylor, who personally donated over $8,000 worth of land. After a great deal of effort by Spokanites to provide the 1,000 acres needed for the fort, construction finally began.


Despite the high hopes that Spokane's citizens had for the fort, it never truly became a full sized regimental headquarters. Where once Spokanites had imagined the fort would contain 1/25th of the entire US Army, it only ever managed to house about half a regiment (roughly 500 men). Still, it did participate in and house veterans of numerous US army engagements, including the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Between 1899 and 1940, it primarily housed mounted infantry units such as the 24th and 25th "Buffalo soldier" regiments, and the 4th Infantry Division which served during the massive St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne Offensives in WWI and would go on to land on the beaches of Normandy in WWII.


In 1940 the post was turned into a Convalescent center for the US Army Air Corps (the forerunners of the Air Force). Training for war gave way to recovery and peaceful activities, including the creation of a farm for the soldiers to work on, and an expansion of the base's hospital. After the war, Fort George Wright existed in a sort of limbo, for a while serving as housing for Air Force personnel. In 1957, the base was abandoned.


In 1960 a portion of Fort George Wright's former grounds was taken over by the Sisters of the Holy Name convent, who established Fort Wright College. In 1990, facing serious financial difficulties, the land was purchased by the Mukogawa Women's Academy, a Japanese girl's college, which still manages the majority of the property to this day. Spokane Falls Community College also bought up a large section of the former post, leveling all of the original structures.

Images

Aerial View of Fort George Wright

Aerial View of Fort George Wright

Image courtesy of The Northwest Room, Spokane Public Library. View File Details Page

Aerial View of the Fort and Spokane River

Aerial View of the Fort and Spokane River

Image courtesy of The Northwest Room, Spokane Public Library. View File Details Page

Another view of the fort from above

Another view of the fort from above

Image courtesy of The Northwest Room, Spokane Public Library. View File Details Page

Fort Wright College

Fort Wright College

One of the Buildings constructed when Fort George Wright was in the possession of the Sisters of the Holy Name Convent. Image courtesy of The Northwest Room, Spokane Public Library. View File Details Page

Fort Wright Institute Map

Fort Wright Institute Map

Image courtesy of The Northwest Room, Spokane Public Library. View File Details Page

Postcard of Fort George Wright

Postcard of Fort George Wright

Image courtesy of Penny Postcards - USGenWeb Archive. http://www.usgwarchives.net/wa/spokane/postcards/ftwrg.jpg View File Details Page

WWII era postcard

WWII era postcard

Image courtesy The Illinois Digital Archives. http://www.idaillinois.org/cdm/compoundobject/collection/lakecou100/id/1084/rec/4 View File Details Page

Military Reservation Postcard

Military Reservation Postcard

Image courtesy of Penny Postcards - USGenWeb Archive. http://www.usgwarchives.net/wa/spokane/postcards/fwcorn.jpg View File Details Page

Troops on the March, Postcard

Troops on the March, Postcard

Image courtesy of Penny Postcards - USGenWeb Archive. http://www.usgwarchives.net/wa/spokane/postcards/ftwrit.jpg View File Details Page

Video

Welcome to the Fort!

Images courtesy of The Northwest Room, Spokane Public Library, Penny Postcards - USGenWeb Archive, and Lee Nilsson. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Lee Nilsson, “Welcome to Historic Fort George Wright,” Spokane Historical, accessed April 29, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/173.

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