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John K. Dow

1862 - 1961

Architect John K. Dow was born in Gaylord, Minnesota in 1862 and became one of the most influential architects in the city of Spokane, practicing for almost 50 years in the city. Reportedly he moved to Spokane in 1889 to take advantage of the many opportunities available in a town where much of the downtown had to be rebuilt following a disastrous fire of that same year. Within two months of the fire he had opened an office with fellow architect Loren L. Rand in the Crescent Block.  While Dow’s formal architectural education/training is unknown, it is clear that he had a thorough knowledge of his craft and quickly the new firm began to receive many important commissions in the city.

Advertisement - Spokane Daily Chronicle - May 1, 1891Together the firm of Rand & Dow are credited with the designs the Tidball Block (1889), the first four-story building constructed after the downtown fire; the Bump Block/Carlyle Hotel (1890); and the Bennett Block (1890). 

For reasons unknown Rand and Dow parted wasy after a couple of years.  Polk Directories indicate that Dow had opened his own practice by 1892.  His early designs include several buildings State Normal School (1895) in Cheney; the Burton Building (1899) in Colfax; the Lincoln County Courthouse (1897) in Davenport; and the Empire State Building (1900); the Spokane Club - Legion Building (1901); the Masonic Temple (1905 with L.L. Rand); and the Coolidge-Rising House (1906); all in Spokane.

In 1907, Dow promoted his long-time associate, Clarence Z. Hubbell, to the status of partner (1907-1910). Together they designed the Hutton Building (1907); Grace Baptist Church (1908) in Spokane; the Library, Assembly Hall and Heating Plant for Washington State College (1907) in Pullman; the August Paulsen Building (1908-11); and several structures for Eastern State Hospital (1906-07) in Medical Lake.

In 1910 Hubble left the firm and opened his own office and Dow continued designing on his own for the next 25+ years.  Later projects include the Landsdowne House (1912); the August Paulsen House (1912); the Mohawk Building (1915); the Powell-Sanders Warehouse (1921) in Wenatchee; the McLeod Building (1915) in Edmonton, Canada; and alterations to the Marble Bank Building (1917) in Spokane.

In 1924 he went to work for Spokane architect G.A. Pehrson, but returned to private practice the following year.  Dow's Art Deco design for Rogers School (1932, with William A. Wells), may have been one of his last projects. At the time he was 68 years old, but his skill as a delineator who took full command of his designs was clear.

In 1937, Dow retired and moved to the Seattle area. After many years of pursing his hobbies of golf and following baseball, Dow passed away in Kent, Washington in 1961; one year short of his 100th birthday.

While in Spokane, Dow was instrumental in the establishment of the Spokane Society of Architects, organized in 1899 and was elected the societies first secretary.  He was also a member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers.

By Michael Houser, State Architectural Historian - Feb 2012

Bibliography

Advertisement - Spokane Daily Chronicle - May 1,  1891

Homes Savings & Loan vs. Burton - Pacific Reporter - March 24, 1899

Spokane, Washington - Carpentry & Building - October 1899

"Fidelity Preparing for New Home" The Fiancier, New York, NY - Feb 10, 1917 pg.378

State of Washington - Special Message of Gov. M.E. Hays to Legislature of 1909.

"Hillyard High to Wells & Dow" The Spokesman Review - April 10, 1930.

Engineering & Contracting - 1921, Vol. 55.

The Architectural Record - July 1910, Vol 28, pg. 57

The Pacific Coast Architect - 1912, Vol 3-4, pg. 183

"Prospective Work"  Engineering & Contracting - August 1915, pg. 40. 

Municipal Journal & Public Work - 1907, Vol 23

The Western Architect - Sept 1908, Vol 12, pg 22.

"A Coolidge to Have Fine Home" The Spokesman Review - June 10, 1906

Photographs & Sketches of Ornamental Iron & Bronze - Executed by the Winslow Bros. Co. Chicago, IL - 1901, pg 271

The American Architect & Building News - March 15, 1902, Vol. LXXV

Stone: An Illustrated Magazine - Contract News - 1897, Vol 13, pg. 397.

Biennial Report of the State Board of Control - 1906, Vol 3, pg. 25

Popular Astronomy - 1912, Vol 20, pg. 58

American Architect & Building News - 1907, Vol 92, pg. 26

Seattle Times - September 20, 1957