As Riverfront Park goes through metamorphosis, group calls on pr - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

As Riverfront Park goes through metamorphosis, group calls on preservation of historic landmark

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

It’s one of the last remaining landmarks from Expo ’74: The metal frame standing alone on the north side of Riverfront Park is more than a fluttering price of the artwork.

“They’re part of history for Spokane,” said Jennifer Leinberger. “We are losing our remnants of Expo ’74.”

Leinberger is the founder of Save the Expo Butterflies, a group determined to do just that.

“Why wouldn’t we bring them back to life,” said Leinberger. “I remember when they had their brightly colored wings and how fantastic they were.”

They were a sight to be seen.

But in the last 40 years, the butterflies have withered. There used to be five of these 50-foot sculptures, now only two remain. The second lies disassembled in a storage lot behind the Spokane Arena.

Leinberger is trying to raise money so that the butterflies can be restored to their former majesty.

To do so she’s enlisted Craig Lee, an engineer who helped restore the butterfly’s structure after it collapsed due to wear and tear in 1995.

“It was meant to be up for a year,” said Lee. “Today one is still standing.”

Lee says the butterflies were designed with simple bushings, metal rings between joints, and not ball bearings. As the butterflies moved in the wind the joints eventually wore out, according to Lee.

In order to completely restore both butterflies, Lee and Leinberger need around $100,000.

The multimillion-dollar renovation of Riverfront Park does not include funding for the butterflies. However, according to park staff, one butterfly at the North Bank is included as an optional add-in.

Staff says they are working with the Park Board and the Spokane Parks Foundation to determine funding sources. In addition, the Save the Expo Butterflies group has been strong supporters, and Coffman Engineers is doing design work.

If you would like to help save the butterflies or would like to learn more about them, visit the Save the Expo Butterflies Facebook page. Or visit their YouCaring page.

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