Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools - university buildings

Designers: Dow, John K., Architect (firm); John Kennedy Dow (architect)

Dates: constructed 1895-1896, demolished 1912

3 stories

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Washington State Normal School, Cheney, WA

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This was the fourth building to house the Washington State Normal School at Cheney. The first was the old Benjamin P. Cheney Academy Building that burned in 1891. (A T-shaped building, the Cheney Academy probably influenced the T-shaped plan of the fourth building.) A second temporary school existed between 1891-1893 located in the Pomeroy Building at 407-411 1st Street in Cheney, and a third occupied the Cheney Junior High School, completed in 1893. The junior high functioned as the normal school until state officials completed the fourth main building in 1896. Spokane architect John K. Dow (1861-1961) designed the $60,000 Washington State Normal School #4 in Cheney, WA, three years after opening his own practice. (Educator J.W. Dow became Principal of the preceding Cheney Academy in 1884, although it is unclear if he was in any way related to the architect of the Normal School Building, J.K. Dow.) J.K. Dow created a design for a 3-story brick building, with a symmetrical, T-shaped plan covered by compound hipped roofs, its presence marked for distant viewers by a central bell tower. This normal school, based on French prototypes, opened on land once belonging to the Benjamin P. Cheney Academy on 10/13/1890. The Cheney Academy opened in 1882 but stagnated until the new State of Washington, voted in 1889 to place a new Normal School on the former campus. This Washington State Normal School in Cheney developed into Eastern Washington College of Education (1937) and Eastern Washington University (1977).

The Washington State Normal School Main Building #4 consisted of four elements forming a T-shape: the bell tower, a main classroom block (the T's shorter line), a portion (behind the main block) with at least 16 faceted sides, and an apse-like addition at the rear of the faceted section (forming the T's longer line). It had features of the Richardsonian Romanesque Style, seen most clearly in its prominent bell tower, with its arched top openings and corbeling. (Romanesque corbeling was also present just under the main building's parapet line.) The classroom block's main entryway also had Richardsonian Romanesque characteristics, with a broad arch and rusticated masonry surrounding it. A meager budget necessitated that the bulk of the windows be trabeated, not arched, and that brick would clad the exterior rather than more costly rusticated stone.

Demolished; this fourth normal school building burned on 04/24/1912. The wood roof and all wooden members on the interior were destroyed. The brick bell tower and walls were demolished in 1912 after the fire. Two faculty members, Max Mirands and J.R. Work, who were sleeping on the building's top floor, jumped from the burning building. Volunteer firefighters caught them in a rug below, although they were both badly injured. (See "School Building Burned," Reno Evening Gazette Nevada, 04/24/1912,Accessed 08/18/2014.)

PCAD id: 19329