Spokane County is home to a variety of buildings with a wide range of architectural styles and features. Some of the most interesting, as well as the least researched, are the native stone structures in our area. With no two looking the same, these buildings and works of masonry are eye catching examples of locally acquired building materials. Due to a widespread interest in rock homes, structures and oddities, the Spokane City/County Historic Landmarks Commission and the City/County Historic Preservation Office, applied for and received a grant to create a historic context as well as document native stone buildings and structures in Spokane County. Funded in part by a 2015 Certified Local Government grant, made up of federal money from the Historic Preservation Fund distributed by the Washington State Department of Archaeology & Historic Preservation, in addition to money from Spokane County, this survey included 36 properties reaching from the Medical Lake area to Spokane Valley. Completed by Stephen Emerson of Archisto Enterprises, this is the first formal effort to look exclusively at native stone structures in Spokane County.
The area of Spokane County covers many different types of terrain and geographic features including open plains, rolling hills, small mountains, rivers and valleys. Beneath the soil of this diverse area sits a solid foundation of stone and earth that make the Inland Northwest a unique place to live. Across the county, basalt rock can easily be found both beneath the surface and exposed for all to see; showcased in boulders, cliffs, and rocky outcroppings from the city limits of Spokane to the far reaches of the county borders. Granite, less common than dark colored basalt, can be found in specific areas such as the Dishman Hills and the lands surrounding Medical Lake. Both of these locations supported long term quarry operations and provided many of the cornerstones and foundations for the construction of Spokane. Perhaps the most recognizable and unique stones of our region are the rounded granite cobblestones collected from the fields of the Spokane Valley. Deposited long ago, these stones originated from locations far to the north and east and were deposited during glaciation long ago but have become representative of Spokane Valley’s history and architecture.
Spokane County Native Rock Survey Properties
Click on one of the boxes below to explore some of the diverse stone properties around Spokane County!
Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Stephen Emerson and/or the Spokane City/County Historic Preservation Office.