Document 63: Meeting of Spokane Property Owners

“Minutes, Downtown Property Owners,” 13 August 1959, Spokane Chamber of Commerce Papers, Box M,
Eastern Washington State Historical Society.

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Downtown Property Owners
Progress Room, Davenport Hotel
Thursday Noon, August 13, 1959

Those present were: Chairman John Hieber, James Brennan, Lynn Cornish, Neal Forseen, T. H. Galland, J. W. Kipper, J. W. O' Larey, Charles Parks, Robert L. Paterson, Clarence Paulsen, Avery Peyton, Kinsey Robinson, M. H. Segner, W. L. Thrailkill, Russell Walker, and Hamilton Owen. Guests were architects Bruce Walker and Kenneth Brooks of Spokane and architect Richard J. Neutra and Mrs. Neutra of Los Angeles.

Chairman turned the meeting over to Kenneth Brooks who gave a brief summary of the background of Richard J. Neutra. Brooks was assisted by Bruce Walker who distributed articles and books written by and about Mr. Neutra, and which served to establish Neutra's high professional standing, international experience, and recognition.

Neutra spoke informally of Spokane's downtown problems. During his remarks he stressed repeatedly the need for the full support of the community in any plan which was ultimately embarked upon. He also stressed the importance of utilizing professional talent of the highest caliber and the need of seeking and obtaining the full support of the local press. He delineated the advantages inherent in a plan of local origin.

Neutra described our traffic problems as not being nearly as hectic or severe as Tulsa, for example. Nor were the peripheral developments in the Spokane area as severe as in other communities. He made the point that the big stores and shopping centers control the environment of their neighbors. He deplored the fact that downtown Spokane is virtually deserted in the early evening.

Neutra said, “A town which has no vital center is dead.”

Neutra discounted the value of an extensive fact-finding survey, comprised of marketing and economic figures, commenting “figures could lead to a fact-finding farce.” He expressed the opinion that any suitable plan should be developed in such a manner that everyone would feel that he is in on it and has a share in it, because of the many human relationship angles. He felt that no failures could be tolerated; consequently, the plan should be developed on a block-by-block basis.

A brochure prepared by Brooks and Walker was distributed.

In a subsequent question and answer period, Neutra described the Spokane river as the outstanding feature in Spokane, and expressed the opinion that it had exceptional development possibilities. When asked how the river development would help business, Neutra said, “The whole city of Spokane should be a 'package' in which merchandise is wrapped. Spokane should be an exciting and thrilling community to visit.” Neutra expressed the opinion that a beautiful and dynamic city center in conjunction with superb living conditions existing in Spokane, could be a strong inducement to attracting new industry. It would not only be attractive at the executive level but it would mean that it would be easier for business to hold employees.

Meeting adjourned.

Respectfully submitted,

Hamilton Owen
Acting Secretary

Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest