City of Spokane to honor man who saved Riverfront Park’s clock tower

The Spokane Parks budget is taking a major hit due to the Covid-19 closures
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SPOKANE, Wash. — The City of Spokane will honor the man who spearheaded the community effort to save Riverfront Park’s clock tower decades ago.

Jerry Quinn, Sr., will be honored in a ceremony held on Wednesday, Oct. 13 at 11 a.m. at the base of the tower.

Everyone who has been to Riverfront Park will recognize the clock tower, but 50 years ago it was almost demolished.

In 1971, when the city was preparing for Expo ’74, Spokane Parks and Recreation said some local leaders feared the Expo needed everything in the area to be demolished. The demolition plan included both the Great Northern Station and clock tower.

However, Quinn, who appreciated the significance of railroads and historical buildings, jumped into action to save the stations. Parks and Rec said he was an advertising professional and President of the Inland Empire Railway Historical Society at the time.

“We worked with the Spokane Ad Club to produce a billboard and transit campaign that said ‘SOS – Save Our Stations,” Quinn said. “Then, we brought a ballot measure that included saving the station as a historical monument. We caught a lot of resistance from the city, but we were undaunted.”

Even though ballot measure failed in 1972, the support the city saw Quinn generate for the station saved the clock tower.

Parks and Rec said the tower stands today as a monument to the railroad industry’s importance to the establishment and growth of Spokane.

“We created so much publicity about the long-term value of these historic depots, Burlington Northern reacted by keeping and restoring other train stations located in the Northwest; including Tacoma, Livingston, Helena and Missoula, Montana!” said Quinn. “Every time I drive by the clock tower, I still get a warm feeling in my heart because of the efforts of many of us who love this icon. Some friends still call it Quinn Tower.”

Quinn will speak at the October event, giving an overview of railroad history and its importance in building Spokane.

Parks and Rec said all community members are welcome to attend.