Bill Trogdon, FAIA is the architect responsible for the JOEL Building.  Designed in 1967 this was a major step in the evolution of JOEL, Inc.  The repurposing of several late 1890's brick warehouses for retail use was the first project of its type in Spokane.
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Mary Jean & Joel E. Ferris, II

Before there was such a term as “mid-century”, a small group of enthusiastic young proponents of good design challenged convention.  Service in Europe during World War II exposed soldiers to man’s brutal nature, but also to its opposite expression of beauty in a pared down aesthetic.  New materials developed during this period were being shaped into everyday objects that were both joyful and adventurous.  Often these pieces were the work of top architects and industrial designers.  There was Gio Ponti in Italy, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Germany and Alvar Aalto in Finland.  In the United States Charles and Ray Eames, Edith Heath, George Nelson and Edward Wormley were among those creating furniture, dishes and everything required for the best American post-war homes.  In Spokane, Washington there was nowhere to purchase these modern objects until November 6, 1950.  On that day 31 year old Joel E. Ferris, II opened the doors of JOEL, Inc. at 714 West Sprague.  In 1967 the business moved to a much larger space at 165 South Post where it remained until the store closed in 2005.  The original shop was small but smart and designed by Spokane’s pioneering modern architect Royal McClure.  By 1954 the business had grown and so had the Ferris family.  Joel and Mary Jean selected a site in the Comstock Park neighborhood and asked Mr. McClure to create a home in the modernist sensibility they so passionately promoted.  The neighborhood association would have none of it.  As Joel was fond of saying, “things happen for a reason”.  When he mentioned this set back to his namesake Uncle Joel, a unique solution was offered.  Build on the secluded grounds of his 4 acre estate.  Protected by massive walls, on the site of the original clay tennis court surrounded by 50 year old mature trees there would be no nosey neighbors to tell them what they could or could not build.  McClure sketched out a plan for a home elevated on posts.  This design was rejected by Joel and Mary Jean as being too visible to the sightline of their generous relative’s adjoining home.  With the new site came a new architect, Bruce Walker.  As luck would have it – Walker was also involved in the design of the Washington Water Power (Avista) headquarters.  Nationally known landscape architect Lawrence Halprin was in Spokane for the utility, but available to shape the grounds of the Ferris family’s more modest project.  Completed in 1955, Joel and Mary Jean’s home was added onto three times.  All three additions were designed by William (Bill) Trogdon. Mr. Trogdon was a Partner with Walker, McGough & Trogdon in November 1959 at the time of the first addition (family room and kitchen).  In 1963 the master bedroom was added onto creating a suite with balcony (Trogdon-Smith).  The final addition in 1983 expanded the dining room and reconfigured bathrooms and laundry (Trogdon-Smith-Grossman).  The grounds nearly doubled in size to one acre in the 1960’s when the backyard was expanded to follow the flow of the big house’s driveway, stone bridge and side terrace.  Joel passed away in 2002 and Mary Jean in 2011.  The house they built at 431 East 16th Avenue in Spokane is a timeless legacy of good design, lives well lived and the courage to build.