Cowles Publishing Company - History


William H. Cowles came to Spokane at age 24 to be the business manager of the Spokesman, which was founded less than two years before, and excelled at local news coverage. He had experience as a police reporter for the Chicago Tribune and was the son of the Tribune's treasurer, Alfred Cowles, Sr. In 1893 the paper merged with its competitor, the Review to become The Spokesman-Review which Cowles purchased from his partners. He acquired the Chronicle in 1897. According to Time in 1952, he was a "determined man" who had an artificial leg yet walked two miles to the office each day.

Cowles set the Chronicle on a course to be independent, and The Spokesman-Review to support Republican Party causes. Time magazine related the paper's success gaining lowered rates for freight carried to the Northwest United States and an improved park system and that helped the region. Increasing its reputation for comprehensive local news and by opposing "gambling, liquor and prostitution," The Spokesman-Review gained popularity. The paper's opposition to building the Grand Coulee Dam was not quite so universally applauded and when it opposed the New Deal and the Fair Deal, it so disturbed President of the United States Harry Truman that he declared the Spokesman-Review to be one of the "two worst" newspapers in the United States. The Scripps League's Press closed in 1939, making Cowles the only newspaper publisher in Spokane. Cowles created four weeklies, the Idaho Farmer, Washington Farmer, Oregon Farmer and Utah Farmer. Cowles died in 1946. When William H. Cowles, Jr. succeeded his father as publisher, James Bracken received much more news and editorial control as managing editor.

The original Review Building, designed by Seaton & Ferris in 1891 in a style closest to Richardson Romanesque, is ten stories with a tower that reaches 146 feet (45 m). In 1975, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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