Architect Donald Edward Neraas was born on born June 16, 1931 in Spokane. While attending Lewis & Clark High School in Spokane, he began his architectural career at the young age 16, working part-time in the architectural office of Whitehouse & Price, one of Spokane's larger firms. After receiving his bachelor's degree in architecture from the University of Oregon in 1953, Neraas returned to Spokane and interned with Whitehouse & Price for a short time. Upon acquiring his architectural licsene (#1020 - Oct 22, 1957) he opened his own independent practice in Spokane in 1957 and began a long career of designing projects in the city and the surrounding communities. According to his family, Neraas had a special interest in the design of churches, and traveled extensively to places such as Tanzania, Nigeria, Egypt, China, Ireland, Canada, and Israel for his church work.
Eclassiastical projects include Spokane Valley Baptist Church, Peace Lutheran Church in Colfax; Prairie Baptist Church in Craigmont, ID; First Presbyterian Church in Davenport; Gethsesmane Lutheran Church (1961) in Seattle; Selbu Lutheran Church in LaCrosse; Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Othello; Christ the King Lutheran Church (1961) in Milton Freewater, OR; Osburn Lutheran Church in Osbur, ID; Sommer Lutheran Church in Bigfork, MT; and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Veredale.
Neraas also designed hundreds of apartment buildings throughout the Pacific Northwest, many for Spokane developers Wendle Reugh, Rich Naccarato, and Harlan Douglass. Apartment commissions for Harlan Douglass alone number more than 65. Notable apartment projects include the Lincoln Terrace Apartments (1960); and The Ridge (1987).
During his 50 year career, Neraas worked on more than 3,000 projects. A list of his commissions shows that while he was responsible for numerous alterations and modifications to already existing single-family homes, he took on a variety of building types; from private garages and lake cabins, as well as new construction for offices, shops, warehouses, apartment buildings, nursing homes, medical facilities, club houses, and athletic organizations. Designs include the Spokane Racquet Club (1962); Sharon Arms Convalescent Hospital (1958); the Trade Winds Motel (1962); Libby Racquet Club (1966) in Libby, MT; Spokane Sanitarium expansion (1967); Five Mile Shopping Center (1958); Colfax Grain Growers Office Building (1958) ; and the Strate Funeral Home (1962) in Davenport.
Neraas was active in a vareity of civic, social and proffessional organizations. He served on the boards of more than 30 local organizations, including the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, the Kiwanis, Goodwill Industries, Trinity Lutheran College, the Westerners, and the Spokane Racquet Club. He passed away in Spokane on December 15, 2007 at the age of 76.
Adapted from the Sharon Arms Covalescent Hospital WHR nomination - by Linda Yeomans