1929 Philena Apartments
Backstory and Context
This faded gem was
built by businessman and mayor, Clarence D. Martin in 1929, named in honor of
his mother, Philena. It was erected as housing for single faculty members of
the Cheney Normal School.
Mr. Martin chose
Spokane architects Archibald and Roland Vantyne to design the 3-story building
in a Romanesque style. The brick building has striking arched windows and terra
cotta decoration. The front door was originally flanked by two concrete pedestals
that held decorative wrought iron lamp posts.
The rich interior
originally had hardwood plank flooring and painted wood wainscoting. There was
a hanging, hexagonal light fixture made of wrought iron above the stairway
foyer. French doors lead off the main foyer.
Philena J. Martin
was born in Ohio about 1861. She came to Cheney with her husband, Frank M.
Martin about 1883. She was an active clubwoman involved in several
organizations including the Rebekahs, and auxiliary of the Odd Fellows. Mr.
Martin was involved in a number of businesses before establishing his legacy
with the Frank M. Martin Grain & Milling Company in 1907.
Over time, the
Philena transitioned from faculty housing to housing female students, both
women and men, and finally was purchased by the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.
Loved my apartment there. When I was a kid, it was only grownups and mostly teachers or people associated with Eastern living there. I had a studio apt on the 3rd floor when I was going to EWU. Rent 75 bucks a month. (!) Built in bookcases, fireplace, lovely. I barely turned on my heat (radiators) because the people below had their heat on. - Suzanne
On the ground floor
facing College Ave there is a glass French door entry. That space has housed a
number of businesses in the past, such as the College Inn restaurant, Cheney
Public Employees Credit Union, JAAZ Hair Salon, the Martin family business office,
and ice cream parlor.
My sister lived there in the late '70's. One day I crawled through the mail / newspaper drop next to her door and waited for her to get home. Needless to say she was quite surprised having an unexpected visitor! - Anne
Preservation Commission, Guide to the Eastern Washington University Campus
Historic District 2003.
Cheney Free Press;
The Southwest Spokane County Historical Society photograph collection;
Facebook Group, You Know You Grew up in Cheney...