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Tale of a Typo – Pavillion Park Spelling has Historical Basis

in Featured/History/Parks and Arts
pavillion park ticket

Newcomers to Liberty Lake often sheepishly bring it up. Freelance writers who begin covering the community point to Spell Check when making their case while contractors routinely go astray when writing up agreements with the city of Liberty Lake.

pavillion park sign
The entry sign that greets visitors to Pavillion Park has a unique backstory as novel as the park’s unconventional spelling.

Welcome to the world of Pavillion Park with the double “L” that few people can explain.

“I’m a spelling geek so I wondered about it when I started with the city,” said Liberty Lake Operations and Maintenance Director Jennifer Camp. “I would keep changing it until I realized that’s how people spelled it. You could politely argue and say ‘No you’re spelling it wrong,’ but that’s just the way it is.”

While dictionaries make it clear that “pavilion” is the universal format for “decorative building used as a shelter in a park or large garden,” there is a widely accepted exception in Liberty Lake. The anomaly goes back to the days of the Liberty Lake Dance Pavillion, an ornate structure built in 1909 that served as the cultural hub for the 35-acre Liberty Lake Park, known far and wide as “Spokane’s Inland Seashore.”

Local historian Ross Schneidmiller remembers the discussions leading up to the naming of the modern-day park. A committee was formed in 1993 to oversee volunteer engagement and funding for a long-awaited community park that was the epitome of a grassroots effort. Ross’s father Elmer Schneidmiller donated 14.1 acres to Spokane County that got the project off the ground. Construction of the park’s first phase began in 1995 and was completed in July of 1999.

pavillion park fourth
Pavillion Park has been a regional destination point since opening in 1999. The annual Summer Festival includes popular events like the Fourth of July concert and fireworks (above).

It was the discovery of a dance ticket from the heyday of the waterfront venue that led to the distinctive spelling.

“When it came time to spell Pavillion Park, the first thing I went to was that dance ticket because it was the most official thing I had,” Schneidmiller said. “The Liberty Lake Dance Pavillion had published this ticket, probably circa 1912, and it was spelled that way. It was pretty common back then. You see that spelling on postcards and other places.”

The extra “L” stuck and has remained ever since. Camp said there are no foreseeable plans to invest in buckets of White Out.

“It would be time-consuming and costly to change,” she said. “We’d have to redo the entry sign and all the signage within the park to start.”

Former Friends of Pavillion Park (FOPP) President Ken Kaiyala was commissioned to carve the entry sign that still welcomes visitors to the greenspace.

“There was this conversation about keeping the historical spelling or going with Spell Check,” recalls Schneidmiller. “We even talked about putting two “L’s” on one side and one “L” on the other. Ultimately, we felt that the unique spelling was appropriate.”

golf cart pavillion park
Golf carts (with one “L”) have become the unofficial vehicle of Pavillion Park over the years.

Schneidmiller said the clincher was the site’s tie-in with the volunteer group that remained intact after the park was built, coordinating a free Summer Festival that has become a staple on the regional warm-weather calendar.

“The county was pretty surprised because most groups like that go away after a park is completed,” he said. “We made it clear we were going to stick around. So, we figured — unique board, unique spelling — let’s go with that.”

Dave Himebaugh, longtime FOPP board member, said he still sees plenty of examples of the site’s one “L” version, despite this year marking the park’s 20th anniversary.

“I constantly see articles or posts or flyers that have the wrong spelling,” he said. “Whereas, if I write ‘pavilion’ with no relation to Liberty Lake, I will try to work in the double ‘L’s.’ When you think about it though, it’s the name of a place, not an object. You could reserve a pavilion at Pavillion Park.”

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