Our History 


   We began as the Southside Senior Activity Center in August 1985. The organization was located in a building at 33rd Avenue and Perry Street, and it was a partnership between the Center and Interplayers Theatre group. In 1988, the Center moved to a two-story space in the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center. The rent increased each year and the space was not meeting the needs of the Center, so in 1996, under the leadership of Donn Thompson, the idea for a new building arose.


   A feasibility study funded by the Spokane Parks Foundation was completed in April 1997 and it indicated that a senior and community center would be a viable facility on the South Hill. But, $1.5 million would need to be raised to support the project.


   Supporters of the new building began looking for property where the new Center could be built. Three sites were identified and the site at 27th Avenue and Ray Street was selected for several reasons;
  • it was located next to Thornton Murphy Park;
     
  • the property was owned equally between the Spokane Parks and Recreation Department and the Spokane Water/Hydroelectric Department;
  • the property was vacant with no plans for future development; and
  • the feeling that the Center would enhance the quality of Thornton Murphy Park and the experience for the greater community.


   In 1998, the Southside Senior Activity Center's Site Committee approached the Parks and Recreation Department and the Water/Hydroelectric Department to discuss the availability of the land for use as a site for the proposed senior and community center. The City of Spokane was supportive of the idea. It would be the first major cooperative effort between two city departments for the greater good of the community. The project was a "go" and an Architectural Committee of community professionals was formed to select an architect for the building. Three months later, a design was determined and fundraising began.
 
   A general plan for a capital campaign was completed in October 1998. Fundraising was driven by the commitment of community volunteers under the leadership of John Lothspeich, retired community leader and educator. The kickoff contributor was the Comstock Foundation which pledged $400,000. It was a tremendous public, private and community effort that raised $1.5 million. These funds came from 14 foundations, 68 businesses, 26 organizations and 895 individuals. The Spokane Parks Foundations issued a $100,000 challenge grant to the Center, which the Center met. After 2 ½ years and countless volunteer hours, the project was ready.


   Under the direction of then-board president Ray Tomlinson and Dale Steadman, retired president of Spokane AAA, who served as co-building chairmen, construction of the facility began in July 2001. As with all most construction projects, costs escalated to a total of $2.2 million.


   The Southside Senior and Community Center officially occupied the new building on Jan. 1, 2002. 
 

                                                                                            

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