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HISTORY VISITING OUR STORIED PAST


the lake, a basalt wall and a walkway were built, including built-in benches and a roof of peeled logs anchored by rustic pergolas at either end. The east end, which was concealed by a hill from the western part of the park, was graded for a hard gravel playground for boys’ sports. Also, the need to dredge and maintain the lake was considered a major problem and dealt with in detail. A plan to plant vines and shrubbery to soften the many rock surfaces was also submitted. The Olmsted plan, recommended in the 1908 report, was mostly implemented, and Liberty Park became one of Spokane’s favorites. In 1920, a swimming pool was added, and in 1950 Springfield Lake


was filled in. By the late 1950s, plans for a freeway specified a downtown route for the proposed corridor. At the time, Liberty Park was in a state of disrepair. In the late 1960s, freeway construction began at Liberty Park. Portions of the old park ruins, which were separated from the rest of Liberty Park by the freeway, are now owned by the State Department of Transportation. They are accessible at Second Avenue and Arthur Street. Today, these ruins are called “Spokane’s Stonehenge.”


CORBIN PARK Corbin Park was the location of Spokane’s second agricultural fair.


Following the first fair, the community began to raise capital to purchase land and build a public racetrack. Spokane’s second agricultural fair, held in 1887, was at the new facility about two miles north of downtown just west of Division Street. The driving park and grounds of the Washington & Idaho Fair Association were completed in time for the annual fair in the fall of 1887. D. C. Corbin carried a mortgage on the property. He had a particular interest in the new racetrack because he himself owned a number of racehorses. Due to financial difficulties, a decade later the fair association was


forced to sell the lands, which Corbin purchased and developed into the Corbin Park Addition. He converted the former fairgrounds into Corbin Park, which he verbally offered as a donation to the city in 1899. The city accepted, and on January 25, 1900, the Spokesman-Review announced “City Now Owns Corbin Park” after D. C. Corbin formally handed over the deeds. Several


years later, the Olmsted Brothers’ firm made


favor of a small “beauty spot,” not a noisy play area, most of the recommendations were not followed. As a result, the Olmsteds prepared a revised design plan, which included a central fountain (never built), curved paths and flower gardens. In 1913, the park board reported that two tennis courts had been installed, which were continually in use, walkways and driveways had been improved, and a great number of shrubs had been planted. In time, due to high maintenance costs, the city eventually chose to eliminate much of the formal design and flower gardens. Today, the park still has some of the oldest trees in the city, despite having lost the beautiful old elms to Dutch elm disease in the early 1990s. Many of the homes around the park reflect the large bungalow style that was popular when most of the homes were constructed in the early 1900s. There are also turn-of-the-century Victorian and Tudor-style homes. In 1991, the Corbin Park Historic District, which includes more


than 80 homes, was placed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places. It is also on the state and national historic registers, along with more than a dozen other historic districts in the city of Spokane.


The Manito Pond, circa 1925 (Courtesy Spokane Parks and Recreation Department) their


recommendation for the 11.5-acre park, which was only 300 by 1,700 feet. As it was all level ground (which had been ideal for the race track), they suggested it be developed primarily as a play area for the neighborhood children. Their recommendation included a swimming “tank” with adjoining changing rooms, an outdoor gymnasium, tennis courts, ball fields, sandboxes and a playground. Because the majority of the neighbors around the park were in


Manito Park (originally called Montrose Park) Around the turn of the century the stage was being set for Spokane’s


showcase neighborhood on the South Hill around Manito Park. Real estate was booming, and a new high-end neighborhood was about to rise in that addition. In the 1880s, Francis Cook had begun making plans to develop a neighborhood around his Montrose Park, but lost most of his South Hill property during the Panic of 1893. His original development project was destined for success, but without him. By 1903, most of Cook’s original properties on “Cook’s Hill”


had been acquired by a number of land speculators. Among them, the brothers Jay and Will Graves, formed the Spokane-Washington Improvement Company to develop and promote their new Manito Addition, bounded by 14th


Avenue on the north, 33rd on the south.


Hatch to the east, and Division to the west. Intent on providing reliable public transportation to the Manito area, Graves had acquired Cook’s Spokane & Montrose street railway in 1902. He immediately began converting it from narrow to standard gauge track and improving the cars. The next year he reorganized it as the Spokane Traction Company. Graves’ next step was to organize the owners of the adjacent


The driving park and grounds of the Washington & Idaho Fair Association, which later became Corbin Park (Spokane Falls Illustrated, Hook and McGuire,1889)


150 SPOKANE CDA • May • 2011


properties to offer a large tract of acreage to the city for a park. Along with the Spokane-Washington Improvement Company and


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