With Terrain, Jensen-Byrd opens to the public next month. But the building’s future remains in limbo

Sunday, September 24, 2017

(As reported in The Spokesman Review by Chad Sokol)

Spokane’s nonprofit arts organization, Terrain, is planning to hold its 10th annual exhibition in a place that has been used mostly for storage for more than a decade.

The Jensen-Byrd warehouse in Spokane’s University District, built in 1908 and owned by Washington State University since 2001, was once slated for demolition, but those plans were overturned after backlash from historic preservationists.

A planned renovation of the building was halted earlier this year; WSU officials said they needed to reassess emerging needs on campus after the creation of a medical school.

WSU spokeswoman Terren Roloff said Terrain contacted the university last month and is paying $1,500 to use the building.

“They reached out to us and really wanted to use it,” she said. “We were happy to provide the space.”

Workers have been preparing the space for the exhibition, which runs Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, by fixing and replacing light fixtures and building stairs with railings on the north side of the building to meet fire codes, Roloff said.

Terrain co-founder Luke Baumgarten said the exhibition will take place on the first floor of the main warehouse, and a smaller structure beside it will house the music stage. Some parts of the building are off-limits because they’re being used for storage, he said.

"I’m super stoked it got saved from the wrecking ball,” Baumgarten said of the Jensen-Byrd building. “I think there's some really interesting opportunities for public use."

He compared it to the recently renovated Washington Cracker Co. building, 304 W. Pacific Ave., where Terrain is based.

Roloff said the creators of the zombie apocalypse series “Z Nation” filmed some scenes in the basement of the Jensen-Byrd building over a few days this summer, but other than that its uses have been limited.

And any renovation remains in limbo until the university revises its master plan for the Spokane campus.

“We do not have any long-term plans at the moment for Jensen-Byrd,” Roloff said. “No news in that regard.”


Photo credit: Washington State University director of facilities operations Jon Schad, views the 1910 addition in the 1908 Jensen-Byrd Building, Aug. 15, 2013, near downtown Spokane. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)