Senior Living in Spokane -- Where the Lilacs Bloom

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Donna Mae Scheib

Senior Living in Spokane -- Where the Lilacs Bloom

Posted by Donna Mae Scheib on August 16, 2019

Senior Living in Spokane -- Where the Lilacs Bloom


Spokane, the county seat of Spokane County, is the second-largest city in the state of Washington, home to over 200,000 people.  It is the largest city in Eastern Washington, central to the Inland Northwest area.  The Spokane River flows through the city and is essential to the culture and economics of the entire area.  The city bought land for parks before World War I, and now has over 4100 acres used for parkland.  The World’s Fair was held in Spokane in 1974, and that 100-acre fair complex became Riverfront Park.   Spokane’s official nickname is the “Lilac City” and motto is “Creative by Nature”, showcasing Spokane as a hub of arts and culture.  It is home to Gonzaga University and Whitworth University. 

Spokane Lilac Festival

The Lilac Festival began in 1938, as a collaboration between the Associated Garden Clubs and Spokane Floral Society.  It has grown into a week-long festival, with an annual Armed Forces Torchlight Parade and royalty elected from area high schools.  A float from the Lilac Festival each year is selected to represent Spokane in other parades in many other festivals.  Some festival themes in past years have included Lilac Country, Lilac Luau, For the Kid in Us, Soaring with Spokane, Spirit of Spokane, Dream and Reach for the Stars, and Swing Into Spokane.  In 2008, a Spokane lilac debuted.  It has double blooms that reach their peak in mid-May (about the time of the Lilac Festival).  The flowers are mauve to pink when they begin blooming, maturing to silver and white.

Parks and Recreation

Many of Spokane’s original parks were landscaped in the early part of the 20th century by the Olmstead Brothers firm.  Manito Park and Botanical Gardens was a zoo at one time and has six separate gardens, including a rose garden that is a test plot for All-America Roses, a lilac garden, dahlia gardens, a Japanese garden, and the formal Duncan Gardens.  Riverfront Park is in the center of downtown Spokane, along the Spokane River.  It contains the upper Spokane Falls and upstream from the lower falls.  It was the location of the 1974 World’s Fair.  Some features of Riverfront Park include the Riverfront Park (Looff) Carousel and its original 1900 band organ, the giant grandfather clock at the top of the clock tower, and a section of the Centennial Trail that goes through the park itself.

Seventy-six lakes are located within 50 miles of Spokane, including the popular lakes in northern Idaho, Lake Coeur d’Alene, Lake Pend Oreille, and many others.  Riverside State Park is popular for hiking, camping, mountain biking, and other activities.  The Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park is a destination for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and other winter sports. 

The Arts

The First Interstate Center for the Arts is in downtown Spokane, adjacent to the Spokane Convention Center.  It has a 2600-seat auditorium, owned by the Spokane Public Facilities District, newly renovated from the INB Performing Arts Center and Spokane Opera House.  Musical stage productions from The Lion King to Les Misérables, bands from Lonestar to Casting Crowns, performers from jazz artist Diana Krall to comedian Jerry Seinfeld have all trod its boards.  Several Spokane-area high schools hold their graduations in the auditorium, and the Region 13 Sweet Adelines competition and convention are held at the FICA Center each year.

The Knitting Factory Spokane House is on Sprague Avenue in the Davenport Arts District.  The original Knitting Factory nightclub was in New York City and hosted more alternative music than at the FICA Center.  The Bing Crosby Theater opened in 1915 as the Clemmer Theater, one of the early movie palaces.  It was named for Spokane’s most famous resident, Bing Crosby, who lived there from the age of 3 and worked there with his brother Bob.   The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, which is a Smithsonian affiliate, has one of the largest collections of Native American artifacts from the Spokane region, as well as Campbell House, a mansion built-in 1898.  The Sculpture Walk runs from the WSU Spokane Riverpoint Campus to the Kendall Yards and Centennial Trail, with most sculptures in the area in and around Riverfront Park, the Convention Center, the FICA Center, and along Spokane Falls Boulevard.  Some notable sculptures include the hard-rock miner at “From This Earth”, the Michael P. Anderson Memorial, and the Centennial Sculpture floating in the Spokane River.

History and Fun Facts

The first settlers in the Spokane area were Native Americans, who named the region after themselves, “children of the sun.”  Their descendants, the Spokane tribe, live in reservations in the region.  The first white settlers, Downing and Scranton, built a sawmill on a claim near the Spokane River in 1871.  Ten years later, the first settlement was completed.  The newly-created Northern Pacific Railway brought prospectors to Spokane for supplies, as they outfitted themselves to work in the mines in Coeur d’Alene gold country.  Spokane soon became a hub for agriculture in the Inland Northwest, as well as mining and forestry. 

Modern Spokane is transitioning into a more service-oriented economy with innovations in health care.  Both Washington State University and the University of Washington have medical school branches downtown.  Potlatch Corporation and Avista Corporation have their head offices in Spokane.

Celebrating Father’s Day began in Spokane.  Sonora Smart Dodd wanted to honor her father, a Civil War veteran.  She got the idea while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon and developed it through the church first.

Who Calls Spokane Home

Bing Crosby grew up in Spokane, as did his brother Bob.  From 1931-1954, he led the US in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses.  He was known for entertaining troops during World War II, as well as the popular Road pictures with Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour.  He won an Academy Award for Best Actor for Going My Way, his most popular movie was White Christmas, and he recorded a myriad of gold and platinum singles.  The house where he grew up is now the Bing Crosby Museum at Gonzaga University.

Former Metropolitan Opera star Patrice Munsel was born in Spokane.  She made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera at age 17 and was known for singing the Campfire Girls’ theme song in TV commercials during the 1960s.

Eric Johnson, an anchor for KOMO 4 television, was also born in Spokane and graduated from high school in Spokane Valley.

Author Sherman Alexie grew up on the Spokane Reservation and is a member of the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene tribe.

Comedian Julia Sweeney of Saturday Night Live! was born in Spokane.

Spokane Senior Activities

Several senior centers exist in Spokane and Spokane Valley, including the Hillyard Senior Center, Corbin Senior Activity Center, Southside Senior Activity Center, and Sinto Senior Activity Center.  They all have a wide range of activities including the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Meals on Wheels, as well as meals onsite, games, various crafts, and help with Medicare and health issues.

Brookdale Senior Living has several properties in Spokane.  The community at Park Place has many options to choose from, from independent living, assisted living, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care.  There’s even an onsite art studio, café/bistro, and a fully stocked library, in addition to the game room, therapy room, and private dining room.  Brookdale Nine Mile is a memory care facility. 

South Hill Senior Living is an assisted living facility that is located right across the street from Deaconess Hospital.  Apartments are fully self-contained, with clinical services available if they are needed.  The location is near to many activities there in downtown Spokane.

South Hill Village is a gated community near Monito Golf and Country Club and Prairie View Park.  It offers personalized independent living, assisted living, and memory care services.  The independent living apartments allow residents to focus on attending to individualized living with amenities.  Assisted living provides an extra layer of safety and support, for activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, medication management, and mobility. 

Mallon Place is an assisted-living facility that provides separate apartments and 24-hour care for residents.  It provides ways for residents to maintain healthy lifestyles, balancing independence and dignity with care support, especially with medication management and activities of daily living.  It provides options to residents that choose that setting.

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