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University Historic District Walking Tour, Eastern Washington University
Item 3 of 20
The third Normal School building officially opened May 27, 1915, two years after the destruction of the 1896 school building. The 3-story building held both the administrative offices and classrooms, as well as the school library. The building was renamed for former president, Noah D. Showalter in 1940.

  • Laying the cornerstone June 27, 1914
  • Construction of the auditorium
  • The Normal School at right, Training School center, and in the background, at left, is the Manual Arts building
  • The swimming pool in the 1920s
  • The Normal School in 1930s.

On June 27, 1914, some 2,000 dignitaries, teachers, students, and spectators gather for the elaborate ceremony led by Senator William J. Sutton, grand master of the Washington State Masonic lodges to lay the cornerstone for a new Normal School administration building. Salvaged from the ruins of the old building, they also set the 1896 cornerstone on the opposite side of the entry.

The brick for the new building came from a factory at Mica, Washington and the terra-cotta used in the decoration of the building came from Renton, Washington. The interior of the building was finished in oak with marble floors. It was built in an eclectic style that includes elements of Classical and Renaissance Revival.  It is three stories high, with basements and a half story extension above the auditorium state in the rear wing.  The frame was built of steel and reinforced concrete. 

The use of stone and steel for the frame of the building was to guard against fire after the loss of the two prior schools.

While the rooms themselves have been converted for new purposes, the original doorways and walls can still be seen in most of the building.

Facing the front entrance, the right wing of the first floor held the domestic sciences department with a kitchen and dining room, as well as sewing and fitting rooms. The agriculture and biology laboratories were in the left wing.

The administration offices and general classrooms were on the second floor, as well as a large reception hall.

The library was located on the third floor above the reception hall. Skylights added natural light to the 1915 era electric ceiling lights. This library served students until 1940.  The third floor also held the chemistry and physical laboratories.

The first floor of the rear wing housed the gymnasium. It had a maple floor and concrete bleachers on each side. At the rear of the gym there were dressing rooms, showers, and a 40 x 19 foot swimming pool. The gym area was later converted into a large classroom. The pool has been covered. In the 1940s, there was a small bowling alley in this section of the building. It was moved to Isle Hall in the 1950s.

The upper level of the rear wing housed the auditorium. It originally held 747 wooden seats. In 1968, they were replaced with wider upholstered seats, reducing the capacity to 627. The stage area looks much as it did in 1915. The classical motifs, the Ionic pilasters with Corinthian capitals, Greek fret-work, swags, and garlands are still there. Panels of elaborately molded plaster are still painted with the original gold leaf color. 

Originally, there was an orchestra pit in front of the stage, but now the stage extends over that area.

The ceiling is still decorated with egg-and-dart molding, foliage brackets, and gold leaf embellishments. The hanging gold leaf chandeliers are original, though spotlights have been added. In the center of the ceiling, you can still see the large round screened openings that constantly pushed fresh air through the building.

The formal dedication took place on May 27, 1915. In another ceremony on June 14, 1940, the building was named Showalter Hall in honor of Normal School President, Noah D. Showalter, who lead the school during the years of disruption following the 1912 fire.

Kinikinick 1913; Historic Preservation Commission; Guide to the Eastern Washington University Campus Historic District; 2003; Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Cheney Washington 1916-1940; Cheney Free Press; The Southwest Spokane County Historical Society photograph collection.