Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Owners plan to remodel historic Spokane Avenue building into event space

Whitefish Pilot | June 7, 2023 1:00 AM

The historic building at 345 Spokane Avenue was originally the First Methodist Church of Whitefish in 1905. After a brief stint as the Whitefish Foursquare Church and several years as the Sunti Art Gallery, it is transforming once again, this time into an event center.

“Jamie (Goguen) just loved the building and wanted to buy it when it became available,” said Project Manager Jayson Peters.

One of the first ideas that owners Michael and Jamie Goguen had was to create a spa. After researching business models and considering how the remodel at 101 Central Avenue — another building they own that will feature a new restaurant in June — could provide them with a catering kitchen, they decided to make 345 Spokane into a two-level event center.

“We realized it could be a nice accent to what we do (at 101 Central),” said Peters. “Someone could, realistically, come in and get married on one floor and do a reception on the next floor.”

The event center will boast two floors, each with 2,800 square feet of space that will comfortably accommodate 80 to 100 people. The Second Story of 101 Central is too small for such large groups and typically hosts parties of 60-65.

The developers decided to leave the steeple, in recognition of the building’s past.

Upon entering the original church, one could go down seven steps to the basement where Sunday school was held, or up seven steps to the main floor of the church. Previous owners had built an apartment with a flat ceiling on the second floor.

“We didn’t need three stories,” said Peters. “Now, when you walk in street level, that is now the main floor. We’re going to bury all the utilities in that four-foot crawl space that gets created because there’s no longer a basement.”

Those changes allow the room to have high, nearly 12-foot-tall ceilings. The new space also brought back the vaulted ceiling on the second floor when the apartment was removed.

The footprint of the building is staying the same but the new building design requires additional structural support. Due to this requirement, Peters said it would have been easier to demolish the building and rebuild.

“We could have rebuilt the exact same (building),” he said. “Doing it the way we’re doing it is a little harder to do but it also just has that continuity, to something that’s old to making something that’s going to last another 120 years. It's an amazing building.”

The exterior will have new surface treatments, the roof will feature a larger overhang and there will be a balcony on the north side of the building.

It is anticipated that wedding rehearsal dinners will be the most popular use of the new space. Peters said Whitefish has become a destination wedding location and there are not enough spaces to host the festivities.

He anticipates 345 Spokane will be open by the end of the year, in time for a couple Christmas parties and that they will start booking more events by next summer.

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