Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


Cowles Memorial Auditorium

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Institution Name: Whitworth College
Original/Historic Place Name: Cowles Memorial Auditorium
Location on Campus: southern end of campus
Date(s) of Construction:
1956original construction Molander, E. W. Murray, Donald H.
Designer: E. W. Molander, Donald H. Murray
Type of Place: Individual building
Style: Modern/post-WWII (Glossary)
Significance: architecture, history
Narrative: see below
References: see below
Foundation: concrete
Walls: brick
Roof: tar
1956-present (2006)auditorium

The Cowles Memorial Auditorium, given in honor of William H. Cowles by his children and grandchildren, was dedicated in 1956. In 1890, Cowles moved to Spokane and secured an interest in the local newspaper, the Spokesman, which he acquired in 1893. Today, the Cowles family still owns the only daily newspaper in Spokane.

The auditorium seats approximately 1, 250 people and has been the venue for many of the public speakers hosted by the college, as well as for all of its major dramatic productions. Among the more notable speakers have been: John F. Kennedy, during his 1960 campaign; James Farmer of the Civil Rights Movement; and C. Everett Koop, the U. S. Surgeon General. In 1964 the organ was dedicated with a concert by the world-renowned E. Power Biggs.

Architecturally, the building can be described as a functional and modern version of collegiate Gothic. The elliptical auditorium ceiling is relatively unusual in the Pacific Northwest.


Gray, Al. Not By Might: The History of Whitworth College. Spokane, WA: Whitworth College, 1965.

Soden, Dale E. A Venture of Mind and Spirit: An Illustrated History of Whitworth College. Spokane, WA: Whitworth College, 1990.


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Last update: November 2006