The Sherwood Building and its Terracotta Gargoyles

This grand building, recently renamed from the Sherwood to the Cutter Building, is one of many Spokane landmarks designed by Kirtland Cutter. Famed architect Kirtland Kelsey Cutter moved to Spokane in 1886 and brought with him European influences from Germany, Switzerland, and England. Opportunity knocked for the young architect in 1889 in the form of the Great Spokane Fire. With so much of the city in ruins, it would be up to architects to rebuild downtown Spokane. One of his great surviving buildings is the Sherwood Building, which was born in 1917.

Kirtland Cutter was fascinated by the Gothic revival architecture that had been popular in Europe and the Americas since the mid-eighteenth century. Characterized by pointed arches, great heights, gargoyles, and its general ornate style, Cutter designed many of his buildings in this style. Neo-Gothic architecture remained popular until the middle of the twentieth century when Modernism became the standard.

The beautiful terracotta gargoyles that adorn the Sherwood building were likely produced in Clayton, Washington. The use of terracotta in the post-Great Fire reconstruction boosted the economies of the clay pits north of Spokane. The Clayton terracotta factories were famous at the time, and their work was used throughout the city on buildings such as the Davenport Hotel and the Spokesman-Review building.The Sherwood Building shines with its terracotta face and many detailed sculptures.

Today, the Sherwood Building is being primed for extensive renovations aimed at turning the Cutter masterpiece into 60,000 square feet of office space and retail shopping.