Looking Back 50 Years on Expo '74: Doing the Laundry

Expo '74 50th celebration

April 12, 2024
Gonzaga University Communications | Spirit Newsletter

Expo ’74 World Exposition put Spokane on the map long before Gonzaga basketball made its indelible mark on the world and our city beginning in 1999.

Spokane is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the fair with events and activities between now and July 4. The March Spirit listed six Gonzaga-related events or projects focusing on tributes to Expo. Two new Expo enterprises are also on the list:

  • GU’s Spring Dance Concert with tunes from the 1970s and other references to this environmental-themed world’s fair, April 26-27, 7:30 p.m., in the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center.
  • A special section of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences’ Design Expo Day May 1 features seven Expo- themed enterprises.
    • Drinking Water System Resilience to Wildfire – The first phase of a multi-year project supported by the USDA Forest Service evaluating efficiency of water treatment technologies to treat wildfire- impacted drinking water sources.
    • Bringing Netherland’s Sustainable Practices to Gonzaga’s Campus – Explore and adapt sustainable practices (in transportation, water, buildings and energy) observed in the Netherlands during Gonzaga in Delft Study Abroad class and examine the feasibility of implementing them as sustainable solutions on Gonzaga’s campus.
    • Spokane Stormwater Quality Improvement Study – This team designed four stormwater best-management practices (BMPs) to present the to the city of Spokane (COS): Rain Gardens, Non- Vegetated Bio-Infiltration, Grass Swales, and Stormwater Planters, to help in reducing pollutant discharge to the river.
    • Sustainable Seat Cushion – Furthering search for materials, building prototype cushions, conducting comfort testing and providing a sustainability improvement analysis for airplane seat cushions.
    • Aircraft Interior Parts Recycling – Examining sustainability at every stage of a product’s life cycle, addressing aircraft interior part end-of-service (EOS) life.
    • Electric Wing Deicing – Look at a more economical and sustainable method of deicing an aircraft wing through a thermal emitter embedded in the composite structure.
    • Wildfire Resource Simulator – To inform the public about aerial firefighting, Fire Armada assigned a GU team to develop an historical graphic simulation to depict wildfires and the flights of large firefighting aircraft in the U.S. from 2020 through 2022.

Gonzaga’s Expo Readers’ Theatre, a collaboration of history and theatre students, will present a history of the fair’s evolution from inception to impact, at several sites in downtown Spokane in May.

This is not Gonzaga’s first participation in anything Expo. During the fair, Gonzaga offered free parking and housing for fair visitors, through GU’s central housing office in the former lumber warehouse on Cincinnati where Coughlin Hall now sits.

Gonzaga associate vice president for plant and construction services, Ken Sammons, was here when Expo ’74 unfolded in Spokane.

“I was busy scrambling to build a laundry room next to Madonna,” he recalls. Apparently, some of Gonzaga’s planners agreed to rent out dorm rooms and furnish linens, not realizing until the rooms were filling that the linens would need to be washed.

“Then they found out that everybody else in town had thought of this earlier and had all the laundry facilities booked up,” Sammons says. “So, we built a laundry facility of our own.”

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