Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Today we explore 5 more venues at Manito Park

We are closing our series of articles about Manito Park and have been listing the various venues of the beautiful park according to the book “Manito Park: A Reflection Of Spokane’s Past”  by Tony and Suzanne Bamonte of Tornado Creek Publications, Inc.

 Today, we visit numbers 6 through 10:
4.       LILAC GARDEN:  The lilac garden was conceived in the fall of 1941 when the Spokane Garden Clubs presented 60 lilac bushes to the city.  The garden, situated slightly southwest of the duck pond contains many varieties of lilacs, Spokane’s official flower.  Buffalo roamed this area when the zoo was in existence.
5.       PICNIC SHELTER and PLAYGROUND:  In 1961 the Spokane Rotary Clubs donated a large picnic shelter near the 18th and Grand entrance.  It contained fire pits, charcoal grills and picnic tables.  In the early 1900s, a channel of water from the present pond extended through this area to Grand.  At that time, there were entrances to the park from Grand at 19th and 20th, and a baseball field north of 19th.  The popular sledding hill is east of the shelter, adjacent to Grand.  In 1998 an attractive and functional playground designed by Debbie Clem-Olsen, landscape architect for the parks, was constructed west of the shelter.
6.       DUCK POND:  The pond began as a larger body of water called Mirror Lake.  The spring-fed lake was always a popular site for year-around activities.  A basalt rock fireplace, built near the west end of the pond in 1955, is a memorial to Lt. Lawrence Rist, an Air Force officer killed in action during the Korean War. 
7.       PARK BENCH CAFÉ:  Built in 1923, the “peanut shack” sold snacks for park visitors and peanuts for the monkeys.  It is located at the intersections of Manito Place, Tekoa and Loop Drive, once the site of a natural pond.  A private vendor sells refreshments during summer months.
8.       LOOP DRIVE AND BRIDGE:  A scenic route through Manito Park is open during the summer months.  The arched stone bridge, built in the 1930s, reflects the architectural design of the early park buildings.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Stories of Rose Hill and Nishyinomiya Japanese Garden

We have been visiting all the various venues of Manito Park, and here are sections 4 & 5 from the book “Manito Park: A Reflection Of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony and Suzanne Bamonte of Tornado Creek Publications, Inc.

4.       ROSE HILL:   Situated on the hill West of the perennial garden, the formal beds contain about 1,500 rose bushes in over 150 varieties.  Old-fashioned roses border sections of the garden, reminiscent of the profusion of roses growing wild at the time Francis Cook named it Montrose Park (“mountains of roses”).  Manito Park is the site of many memorials, especially in the rose garden.  A pergola, composed of 14 Tuscan columns for climbing roses, honors the late professional photographer Erna Bert Nelson, a generous benefactor to Spokane parks.  The nearby sundial is a memorial to the two sons of Mr. and Mrs. R. Jackson Wortman.  Jacob J. Wortman died at age 15 after a lingering illness.  Ward K. Wortman, a fighter pilot in the Air Corps, was killed in action.  Numerous rose bushes have also been donated as memorials. 


John Duncan conceived the idea of the rose garden on Rose Hill and, before his retirement, planted some domestic roses along the hillside below.  However, the cooperative project between Spokane Parks and Recreation Department and the Spokane Rose Society did not materialize until Harold Abbott’s tenure as park superintendent.  In 1948 the Rose Society proposed a rose garden be established at Manito to serve as both a test garden and for memorial roses.  Two years later, they donated $500 to launch the project.  In 1998, for the eighth time, the showcase display earned Rose Hill the national All-American Rose Selections Award for Outstanding Maintenance.


5.       NISHINOMIYA JAPANESE GARDEN:  In 1961 Mayor Neal Fosseen and his wife, Helen, initiated a Sister City program between Spokane and Nishinomiya, Japan.  The concept of this Japanese garden emerged as a symbol of this relationship; Nishinomiya reciprocated by planting a lilac garden in Japan.  Following years of planning, fund raising, construction and landscaping, the garden was dedicated as part of Expo ’74.


This beautifully artistic garden, in the corner of Manito Park bounded by Bernard and 21st, is sustained by the dedicated efforts of numerous individuals.  The Japanese community’s active involvement is led by Ed Tsutakawa, who chose the site and was instrumental in its early development.  Nagao Sakurai, former chief landscape architect for the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, designed the garden.  Before its completion, Mr. Sakurai suffered a stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed.  With the critical assistance of Polly Mitchell Judd (then-president of Spokane Federation of Gardeners) and Ed Tsutakawa, Mr. Sakurai continued supervising, with painstaking precision, from his wheelchair, until his deteriorating health forced his return to Japan.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

We're Almost Done With Our Adventure

As we mentioned last time, our story, according to the book “Manito Park: A Reflection Of Spokane’s Past”  by Tony and Suzanne Bamonte of Tornado Creek Publications, Inc. is coming to a close.  Today’s article is almost the last and will begin the Bamonte’s account of the many different areas and features of our beloved Manito Park.

We will begin the whole series again here in a few weeks and post them to both www.ManitoPark.org as well as www.ManitoParkOrg.blogspot.com.  Tune back in and catch up on some of the earlier chapters you may have missed. 

Here’s the beginning of our wrap-up:

A TOUR OF MANITO PARK TODAY – Parts 1 through 3:

1.       DUNCAN GARDENS:  The formal European Renaissance style gardens, directly south of the Gaiser Conservatory, were originally called the Sunken Gardens,  In February of 1941, they were officially renamed in honor of Park Superintendent John W. Duncan, who designed and began developing them in 1912.  During his tenure, the gardens contained many diversified plant species, including rose and perennial gardens.  A grapevine-covered arbor was located near the rose garden at the southern end (the gardens have since been extended farther south).  Over the years, the gardens have undergone a number of revisions.  In 1996, under the direction of Jim Flott, Horticultural Manager for Manito, and Debbie Clem-Olsen, landscape architect, the most recent renovation was completed.  At a cost of about $35,000, funded primarily through Friends of Manito and Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane, the ratio of floral gardens to lawn was increased.  A vibrant array of colorful annuals make Duncan Gardens a popular site for summer chamber music concerts and weddings, and provides a scenic backdrop for photographers.  The focal point of the garden is a large granite fountain, donated in 1956 in memory of Louis M. Davenport by his wife Verus and son Lewis M. Davenport.  Davenport was a longtime park supporter and park board member.

2.       GAISER CONSERVATORY:  Construction of the present greenhouses at Manito Park were completed in April of 1974, replacing those built on the same site in 1912.  The first greenhouses (moved from Liberty Park in 1904) were near the 20th Street entrance to the park.  In 1988 the central dome was enlarged and dedicated to the memory of Dr. David Gaiser , longtime park patron and former park board member appointed by Mayor Neal Fosseen.  This popular attraction, which contains tropical, subtropical and temperate plant specimens from around the world, is open to the public, free of charge, year around.

3.       JOEL E. FERRIS PERENNIAL GARDEN:  This garden, established by John Duncan around 1940, is located directly north of the office building.  It was named in honor of a former park board member and popular civic leader following his death in 1960.  With over 300 plant species – all identified by markers – it is an ever-changing array of colors and textures during the growing season.  It is an informal counterpart to the Duncan Garden’s formal style.  A memorial bird bath fountain, located at the southeast corner of the garden, was donated to the park by Mr. and Mrs.  Alfred Hengen in memory of their daughter, Helen Hengen, a young Spangle aviatrix who lost her life in 1945 on her final flight for her pilot’s license.  The bird bath is in the center of the Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Where did the Duck Pond come from?

The lake at Manito Park, called Mirror Lake during the Montrose Park era, underwent the first of many alterations.  The overall effect of these alterations was a reduction in its size to what is now the duck pond.

In the early days of the park, the spring-fed lake extended to the edge of Grand Boulevard.  The main body of water was at the present site, with a canal extending to the east.  This canal would almost dry up in the late summer, leaving an unsightly, mosquito-infested swamp.  At the west end of the lake, the water would seep into the nearby lots.  In 1912, in order to contain the water, a concrete wall, founded in bedrock, was built along the north and west sides of the lake.  Water from nearby springs was also diverted to the lake to keep the water level up.  Because of its proximity to the town, the lake had always been a popular place for children to swim, fish or canoe in the summer, and ice skate in the winter.  The changes enhanced the lake for those recreational activities.  Eventually the channel was filled in, and in 1974 a concrete retaining wall and deck were built along the northeast end.  By this time, the lake had long since become a duck pond.

Many changes in the vegetation have taken place around the pond over the years, but as can be seen from early photographs, it has always been a place of beauty, a dazzling jewel in the heart of the Manito neighborhood.  Sadly, in November of 1996, a severe ice storm devastated thousands of Spokane’s trees.  The storm took its toll at Manito – about 70 of the park’s trees were lost and more were damaged.  Neighbors reacted when the spring clean-up included removing numerous trees along the water’s edge.  Not all the trees had sustained ice-storm damage; some were already failing and further stressed by the storm.  The Park Department made the difficult decision to remove them all at once.  The once-serene beauty, with the weeping willows hanging over the water, had been severely altered.  But, as the old trees were removed, over 90 young replacements were planted, which will eventually restore a picturesque setting.  The ubiquitous screeching and quacking from a growing sea gull and duck population made quiet contemplation at the pond a near impossibility, but the enjoyment of feeding them continues to attract people from dawn to dusk.  [Ed note:  Consult the Spokane Parks & Recreation Department before feeding any of the gulls or ducks in Manito Park.  Recent developments have made feeding them dangerous to the birds as well as to the surroundings.]

John Duncan initiated other changes at Manito Park during his tenure.  As previously stated, during this stage of the park’s development, he gradually incorporated some of the recommendations from the 1907 Olmsted Brothers’ report.  When Duncan retired in 1942, he was designated Superintendent Emeritus of the Park System, and Harold T. Abbott was hired to replace him.  The Park Board minutes credited Duncan with “creating one of the finest series of gardens in the country out of barren rocks, lakes and bogs.”    Following his death on January 21, 1948, at age 83, the minutes again reflected on Duncan’s contribution, as follows, “(he) always had an eye to the practical as well as the beautiful.”

The remaining articles will wrap up our reporting of the park’s founding, creation and changes throughout the years.   All of the information reported in this series of articles came from a book by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte entitled, “Manito Park:  A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”.  The book is now out of print, but a few used copies are still available on Amazon.com and we’re certain they are in Spokane’s libraries if you are interested.

Thank you all for reading.  The next series of articles will be about all the various venues in Manito Park and will act as the conclusion to this series.  We will then restart the series, so if you missed some of the chapters, please click over to www.ManitoPark.Org or www.ManitoParkOrg.blogspot.com to catch up on the missing chapters.

Thank you all for reading and for your comments and “likes” left on our Facebook account.

The staff at ManitoPark.org.