Spokane stands on the edge of a sea of wheat, and grain and milling was a growth industry in the city in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. There are several mills still standing to prove it. Sperry Mill, on Sprague, was owned and operated by the Sperry Flour Company, originally from California. Sperry owned at least fourteen other mills in that region. Built in 1918, the construction of this mill continued despite World War I and in fact provided the United States Government with surplus grain for the war effort.
By 1919 Sperry Mill produced 1,000 barrels a day with a capacity for 2,000 if needed. It employed more than one hundred men in its milling and packing plant and combined the most cutting edge technology of the time including the ‘Carter-Mayhew process’ for washing the grain. Spokane citizens were invited to visit the mill in its opening weeks to marvel at the stainless steel and enameled machinery covering nine floors. As productivity increased, other commercial ventures came to the East Central neighborhood and homes began to be built.
This particular mill was a vital part of the East Central neighborhood, providing jobs and community events that included family picnics. It provided high quality flour to Spokane and surrounding towns with its most famous product called ‘Drifting Snow’ flour. Around 1929, the General Mills company bought the mill and business continued but in 1965 the original flour milling operation closed due to a general decline in production and exports.
Today the old Sperry Mill is still in use and relatively unchanged. It now operates as a mix plant for food products manufacturing and packing plant construction owned by privately run company, ADM.