This historic industrial building – gone commercial haven – success story begins with “The Biggest Man in Spokane,” Simon Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer, a prominent member of Spokane’s Jewish community, was one of the first in the area to go to Russia in search of investors. His efforts were fruitful after convincing a Dutch mortgage company to invest in his vision, and he built a sawmill and the aforementioned flour mill with a sizable lump sum.
The flour mill was completed in 1895, but the depression of 1893 had taken its toll on Oppenheimer’s dreams: he was bankrupt. He fled to South America. An enormous and historic legal battle ensued. The case left the flour mill unused until 1900, when it finally began to produce flour under the Washington Water Power company.
In 1970, the mill was closed. Three years and two million dollars later, the mill reopened as the office/retail/restaurant mixed use building it is today. The next summer, the World’s Fair came to Spokane for “Expo ’74,” the first World’s Fair to ever feature sustainable living and urban design practices. (This was also the last time Spokane received national recognition until it topped the list for cheapest cities to move to after college in the U.S. two months ago.)
Due to its proximity to Riverfront Park and downtown, The Flour Mill is sure to stand the test of time so long as the granite underneath the foundation holds out against the Spokane River.
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Credit: References linked to sources. Photos taken by Aascot Holt.