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Platted in a triangle, with its base on the Northern Pacific Railway. It is a pleasant busy town. Several railroad lines run through it. At one time Cheney was connected with Spokane by an electric interurban line, and for a decade or so, until the automobile cut into its traffic, the line and the town prospered. For a few years Cheney was the county seat, only to lose out in a bitter fight with Spokane Falls. Today, Cheney is a servicing and distribution center.

It was founded in 1880 and named Billings for Frederick Billings once president of Northern Pacific Railway. Early railroad surveyors had mapped the place as Depot Springs. Education-minded citizens wanted an academy and appealed to Benjamin P. Cheney of Boston, a director of Northern Pacific Railway Company. Cheney donated $10,000, and the town was named for him. Cheney was incorporated November 29, 1883.


Ca. 1910 image of the Washington State Normal School in Cheney and a horse-drawn U. S. Mail cart. Ca. 1910 image of the Washington State Normal School in Cheney and a horse-drawn U. S. Mail cart.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

1929 view of the new Northern Pacific Railway depot, Cheney.

Source: Washington State Historical Society

Points of Interest Points of Interest icon

Cheney Odd Fellows Hall

Built in 1904, The Cheney Odd Fellows Hall significant for Its association with the community’s leading fraternal organization in the early 20th century, and is the best-preserved example of vernacular commercial architecture from the same period. From Its inception, the hall has been the venue of the community’s most important social events and civic meetings. Today the building IS a rare reminder of Cheney’s public life during Its formative years.

Lowe House

The David Lowe House was built in1904, a rather late but fine example of the popular Queen Anne Style of architecture. The home is one of few remaining examples of this small railroad town’s belated attempt to capture the elegance and grandeur of High Victorian architecture. It was built by David Lowe, semi-retired farmer, real estate entrepreneur, and leading Cheney citizen. Over its long life, the home has served Cheney as a residence for students, boarding house, college fraternity, and leading example of ornate turn-of-the-century domestic architecture.

Cheney Interurban Depot

The Cheney Interurban Depot was the Cheney terminal for the Washington Water Power Interurban Trainline which ran between Spokane, Medical Lake, and Cheney from 1902-1922. The Interurban trains in the Spokane area were an important and extensive system of local transportation which lasted approximately twenty years, spanning the transition period from horse and buggy days to the automobile.

Northern Pacific Railway Depot

The Northern Pacific Railway Depot is historically significant for its close association with transportation and trade in the railroad town of Cheney, WA. Designed in a Mission Revival style with a stucco veneer and tile roof (perhaps the only depot in the state so designed). The simple structure is the only depot in the community associated with the railroad that founded and sustained the City through the mId-20th century. The depot, built after an aggressive campaign by local businessmen, was a focal point and an important part of Cheney’s character as a railroad town.

Security National Bank and Masonic Temple Building

The Security National Bank and Masonic Temple Building is the most significant commercial structure in the small agricultural trade center, railroad hub, and college town of Cheney, WA. Built in two phases between 1910 and 1924, the building was the home of the city’s largest bank and the temple of the Masonic Lodge, and is more closely association with the business actives of state Senator WJ Sutton that any other structure in Cheney. The building reflected a restrained Neoclassical design and the original 1910 building was designed by Kirtland Cutter.

City of Cheney Historic District

The Central Cheney Historic District is significant for its association with the growth of small towns in the wheat-growing regions of eastern Washington, the growth of Eastern Washington University, and the wide variety of architecture typologies and styles represented between 1880 and 1950.

Washington State Normal School Historic District

The Eastern Washington University is situated on a rise northwest of the central business district in Cheney, WA. Unlike better endowed institutions such as the University of Washington, the Cheney Normal School did not have the luxury of a large amount of land upon which to design a comprehensive and Unified campus plan. It grew up around Showalter Hall in piecemeal fashion, taking advantage of land purchases as they became available Despite this fragmentary evolution, every effort was made to maintain the focus on the central building, Showalter Hall. All structures of the Histone District face toward this central point. The buildings also derive unity from their similarities in architectural style and decor. The harmony of the Histone District IS further enhanced by the landscaping of the grounds, which contain an abundance of trees and are well maintained. This IS especially true of the quad between Showalter and Senior Halls. All contributing structures of the Eastern Washington University Histone District, except the Herculean Pillars, were designed by Julius A Zittel or George M Rasque between the years 1913 and 1940. Despite functional changes, all buildings retain excellent exterior integrity, and some possess significant interior features.