Spokane History Timeline

The Cathedral of St. John - 1926

The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city of Spokane. The cathedral is also one of the biggest in the state of Washington reaching 197 ft tall. The cathedral is located on 12th and Grand. Have you ever thought why there two names: churches and cathedrals? The only thing that makes a church a cathedral, is that a cathedral has a seat for the bishop called the cathedra.

Cathedral Foundations


The construction of this cathedral began in November of 1925 and was completed in less then ten years. The stones used to construct this beautiful cathedral came from a quarry near Tacoma, Washington and were used for the outside. When the quarry in Tacoma ran out of rocks that were the correct color the builders went to a quarry in Idaho and got sandstone, which they used, for the Narthex Nave, the main entrance, and the Crossing. Another stone that was used was Indiana Limestone. It was used for the rest of the cathedral. The roof is made out of copper. St. Johns Cathedral is one of the few examples in America of classic Gothic architecture. The cathedral had a French influence for gothic architecture. What makes this cathedral Gothic is that there are many pointed arches.

Right Reverend Edward Makin Cross came to Spokane in 1924 from Minnesota and thought of building a cathedral on the hill overlooking Spokane. He was the first bishop of the church. Harold C. Whitehouse was the architect. The cathedral was the only major cathedral to be completed in the lifetime of the founding bishop. The first service was held October 20, 1929. Three congregations, St. Peters, All Saints, and St. James came together to sell their properties to help fund the construction of the cathedral.

Cathedral Construction

There are two musical instruments in the cathedral. The first instrument is the organ. The organ in the cathedral has 4,094 pipes. The organ was designed, built, and installed by Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston in 1960. Then, in the year 2000, a company from Oregon put in digital components. The cathedral's organ has 86 stops. A stop is a component of the pipe organ, which admits pressurized air through the pipes to make sound. This organ is played with only three manuals or keyboards. The sound of the organ is so good it can be heard in every corner of the building.

The cathedral's second musical instrument is called a carillon. A carillon is an arrangement of 13 or more bells together. If you had 12 or less bells it would be called a chime. The carillon in the tower is one of the finest in the world and one of the only in the Pacific Northwest. We are very lucky to have a carillon in a city as small as Spokane. It consists of 49 cast bells, which were made and installed by John Taylor from England. They only allow one person at a time to play the carillon because of narrow passage into the tower. The carillon can be heard every Sunday, and is best heard outside.

One of the cathedral's prides is the stained glass windows. Stained glass was developed after the 11th Century when people discovered glass could be made translucent. The Gothic architecture made the windows able to stay in the wall and not break by the weight of the wall above it. People began to put symbols on the glass of the gospel story so those who couldn't read could still learn the story. Charles J. Connick did most of the work on the glass. The first two windows were installed in 1932 and cost the cathedral $3,200. The latest window painting was done May 23, 2009 and cost $300,000.

Cathedral Complete


In conclusion, the cathedral of St. John the Evangelist is a beautiful church that hard work and devotion helped build. The Bishop of the church now is Right Reverend James Waggoner. He is the 8th Bishop of the cathedral. The cathedral is still not completed. There are glass windows that are not yet painted because of needed money. Even if you're not a member of the cathedral service, you can take tours and appreciate the French Gothic architecture, the beautiful stained glass windows and music from the organ and carillon.

Photos used with permission from Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture/ Eastern Washington State Historical Society.

L87-1.33378-27 = Cathedral Foundations - 1927
L87-1.37036-28 = Cathedral Construction - 1928
L2004-32.592 = Cathedral completion




copyright © 2009, Discovery School.
All rights reserved.
Report created May, 2009.
Revised: September 28, 2009;10/4/2009
Last Modified on August 2, 2011; April 2016


The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist - 1925