Flour Mill

The city of Spokane began as a small cluster of buildings on the south side of the falls, focused around saw mills and and later flour mills. This is why the city was originally named Spokane Falls. After the 1889 fire had burned much of the city it was decided to build a new mill on the north side of the falls.

The mill was finished in 1895 but it wasn't put into operation until 1900. The reason for the delay was lawsuit over ownership of the mill. The previous owner, Simon Oppenheimer, went bankrupt and went off the grid. The ownership of this mill passed to James Glover and a series of complex lawsuits between him, the city of Spokane and A Dutch financial firm named Kantoor soon ensued. Eventually Kantoor won the suits and the mill was able to enter operation. This was one of the most spectacular and complex lawsuits in Spokane history.

The mill worked regularly until 1972 when it, after many years of service, closed its doors. This was not the end of the Flour Mill though. Soon, in 1973 the mill was converted into a shopping center in preparation for EXPO '74. This was one of the first examples in Spokane of a historic building being preserved and reused for a new function. Its location was directly next to the north entrance to the EXPO, which got it much publicity during the EXPO. It contains many interesting little shops including Tobacco World and Olde Joe Clark's Photography Studio which have been there since it was converted. At first, much of the original equipment was left in place, but was later removed.

The Flour Mill serves as a reminder of the industrial origins of Spokane and of the importance of water power throughout the history of Spokane. Its conversion to a shopping center has maintained the location's viability while allowing it to continue to serve as a reminder of the city's history.


Rehabilitation of Buildings
Image 1 courtesy of Washington State Digital Archives - online collections. Images 2-10, 12-14 courtesy of page creator. Image 11, courtesy of Historic Register Nomination. Audio source: National Register of Historic Places Nomination
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