Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Spokane Grows at a Rapid Pace

Today we continue the story of the burgeoning growth of Spokane, especially on the prestigious new “South Hill” area.  Our story continues, according to the book, “Manito Park:  A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com.

The key to selling real estate in the early 1900s was the availability of street railway service to the development, graded roads and water.  When Graves purchased Cook’s Spokane & Montrose streetcar line in 1902, he immediately began to enlarge and improve it.  He then organized the Spokane-Washington Improvement Company to “plat additions, install water systems, grade streets, establish and maintain parks, and all other necessary functions vital to property development.”  Graves sold 50 acres south of 33rd Avenue to the Spokane Country Club for a clubhouse and nine-hole golf course.  This was a well-executed scheme to attract future buyers to lots around that site.  Other developers also began selling lots on the South Hill, and it was soon revealed that a large tract of land would be donated for a park.

Francis Cook’s original development project was destined for success – without him.  There are conflicts amongst historians regarding the precise point of Manito Park’s inception.  A number of recorded events suggest a “park of sorts” as early as 1886, when the first fair in Spokane County was sponsored by Francis Cook and held somewhere on his “farm on the hill” (most likely in the vicinity of Mirror Lake).  The Polk Directory lists “Montrose Park, 2 ½ miles S. of city on Cook’s Electric Line” for the years of 1896-1898.  In the 1899 Polk Directory, only the Montrose Park Addition appears, and from 1900 to 1902 both Montrose Park and the Montrose Park Addition are listed.  A Spokesman Falls Review article appearing in April 1888 highlighted Montrose Park as the destination for local picnics and family excursions.  Another recorded event corroborating the early Montrose Park was an article appearing in the June 28, 1902 Spokesman Review:  “The old pavilion at Montrose Park was burned yesterday morning.  The building was not worth very much.  Charles Reeder, agent for the Provident Trust Company, which owned it, expresses the belief that the fire was of an incendiary origin.”    If this pavilion was considered “old” in 1902, it apparently was built during Cook’s ownership and development of the area, probably at the time of the fair in 1886.
Watch next week at www.ManitoPark.org or at www.manitoparkorg.blogspot.com for the next chapter in this continuing series recounting the interesting events that eventually led up to the establishment of our beloved Manito Park.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Where is "Top Notch Hill" in Spokane?

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com, we now hear more about the continuing building boom on the South Hill portion of the city and the development of the Manito neighborhood in specific.

Around the turn of the century, the stage was being set for Spokane’s showcase neighborhood.  Tremendous wealth from the nearby mining districts was creating one of the strongest economies Spokane has ever seen.  Real estate was booming and new housing developments were beginning to envelop the core of Spokane.  During  1903 alone, a total of 1500 new structures were built in Spokane.  Most of the city lay to the west of Washington Street, with substantial construction north of the river.  A scattering of new houses appeared around the perimeter of the city.

Spokane’s South Hill was about to emerge with a mighty and lasting force.  A real estate article in the June 24, 1903 Spokesman Review stated:

‘Top Notch Hill’ in the southern part of the town, is quite stable – very few changes in the buildings, because people building homes there generally know what they want and can afford to pay for it; whereas the less fortunate ones often keep on enlarging on an originally small house.

This article was defining a developing exclusive area, previously referred to as “The Hill”.  It also marked the beginning of a name and class reputation the South Hill would retain.  John Fahey describes many of this neighborhood’s residents in his book Shaping Spokane – Jay P. Graves and His Times:

                                In many ways the Spokane of 1900 mirrored the ostentation of Industrial America.  As the town flourished, merchants, mining and lumber magnates, bankers, lawyers, doctors and others – even a handful of manufacturers – not only could afford expensive housing, but demanded striking homes to testify to their preeminence in society and business.

                                “The Hill” was becoming a place of curiosity and awe.  People enjoyed viewing the beautiful homes as they passed through this area on the way to Montrose Park (as Manito Park was still called at the time) and the new building lots on the plateau.  For an up and coming family in the early 1900s, Manito was definitely the neighborhood to invest in property for a home.   It had all the elements for success, situated directly above one of Spokane’s already established elite neighborhoods immediately south of downtown (the area of the D.C and Austin Corbin, F. Lewis Clark, Kirtland Cutler, F. Rockwood More/Senator George Turner homes).


Next time, we’ll learn more about this booming neighborhood, some of its inhabitants and the continued development of the area.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Railroad Accident Nearly Ruins Financiers of Spokane’s Growth…

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com:

The most tragic railroad accident in the Inland Northwest was the head-on collision of two Spokane & Inland Empire trains about a mile west of Coeur d’ Alene on July 31, 1909.  Seventeen passengers were killed and more than two hundred injured.  This accident, and the resulting damage claims, plunged an already financially-compromised company into near financial ruin.  Soon after, the streetcar lines began to feel a sting of competition from the automobile.  In addition, the population count reached a sudden plateau, quelling the need for further rail line expansion.

By 1912 Graves divested himself of controlling interests and responsibilities in both the Spokane & Inland railway and the Granby mines.  His investments in these operations proved profitable, but many other investors, who delayed liquidating, were not so fortunate.  With his proceeds, Graves built a beautiful estate at his farm, purchased years earlier, on a bluff overlooking the Little Spokane River.  The estate he named “Waikiki” was designed by architect Kirtland Cutter and landscaped by the Olmstead Brothers firm.  (It is now Gonzaga University’s Bozarth Conference and Retreat Center.)  He also began investing in property north of Spokane, accumulating some 3000 acres, most of which he intended to develop and sell.

The residential acreage market was beginning to soften at this time, and Graves needed an incentive to entice buyers.  That incentive came in the form of donating land to the floundering Whitworth College, which was looking to relocate from Tacoma to a more strategic site.  Graves offered a proposal that gave Whitworth a vested interest in promoting the sales of lots around the donated land.  The college accepted, and a ground-breaking ceremony took place on May 22, 1914.  Graves continued to take an active role in the ongoing development of the college, and upon his death on April 27, 1948 at the age of 88, his ashes were scattered at a favorite spot on the Whitworth campus.

Graves experienced financial difficulties in his later years.  His real estate investments went flat and further speculation in the mining business was unproductive.  He had to sell Waikiki in 1937 at a deflated value.  Nevertheless, this shrewd, industrious businessman was remembered for his successes, and seen as a visionary who left for future generations such legacies as Manito Park and Whitworth College.

Next time, we will learn more about the expansion of the South Hill portion of Spokane and the newest  building boom in the area.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Spokane expands at a rapid pace…

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com:

Jay P. Graves’s early years in Spokane clearly influenced the transition between horses and motor vehicles.  The street railway enabled and encouraged the rapid building and expansion of Spokane.  The extension of his line through the South Hill fed the development of the Manito Park area.  Although Graves’s most financially significant accomplishment was the development of the Granby Mining, Smelting and Power Company in British Columbia (the largest copper producing mine in Canada at the time), his most important accomplishment in the Inland Northwest was the development of the electric railway system.

The caption in a July 9, 1907 newspaper article read:  “SPOKANE TO HOLD A WORLD’S REECORD:  longest Electric System on Earth Owned by One Company”.  Graves was quoted as saying, “Spokane has more miles of electric railroads than any other city in the Pacific coast states.”  The article continued, “This statement looks big, but it is substantiated by figures…Los Angeles comes second with a number of miles less than Spokane.”   In the final stage of development, Graves’s Inland Northwest railway empire consisted of some 250 miles.  In 1906, with the rapid expansion of the electric lines, the need to develop a private source of power (heretofore supplied by Washington Water Power) began to materialize.  Construction was started on the Nine Mile power plant on the Spokane River (now owned by W.W.P.).  Graves’s various rail lines and interests were finally organized into one large company – the Spokane & Inland Empire Railroad Company.  In October of 1909, he sold this line to the Great Northern Pacific railways.
During Grave’s development of his electric railroad, the Inland Northwest’s first serial murder was uncovered.  In December 1903, while grading for a sidetrack on the new Spokane and Coeur d’Alene electric line – a line Graves absorbed in 1904 – a construction crew unearthed a total of 11 skeletons near Coeur d’Alene.  Most of the remains were found in shallow graves on or near the grounds of former Fatty Carroll’s Resort.  Because “serial murder” was an unrecognized occurrence at the time and investigation techniques quite unrefined, the skulls and bones were exhibited in the various saloons and business houses around Coeur d’Alene.  This technique apparently was ineffective – it remains an unsolved mystery today.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

By 1903, Automobiles Gain Popularity in Spokane:

According to the book, “Manito Park: A Reflection of Spokane’s Past”, by Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte of www.tornadocreekpublications.com:

Because of the frequency of horrible accidents and even deaths due to runaways and other horse-related incidents, Spokane had “Ordinance Relating to Horses.”  One of the first recorded accidents occurred on November 15, 1881, when the Western Hotel Express wagon, with eight people aboard, failed to negotiate the corner as it came onto Riverside Avenue at Blalock’s corner.  William Cannon, father of Anthony Cannon, was one of the passengers injured.  The 1892 municipal code cited, among other infractions, that riding a horse faster than six m.p.h. in the city or on a sidewalk was a misdemeanor punishable by stiff fines.

During the late 1800’s, Spokane had a no-nonsense approach to crime.  The city fed its jailed inmates bread and water, had a city rock pile where the prisoners worked, and carried out the only three official hangings in the history of Spokane County.  All three men were sentenced for murder within a year of his crime.

On July 26, 1903, an article appeared in the Spokesman-Review summarizing the status of automobiles:


No other town in the northeast can boast of as many automobiles as Spokane.  The broad level avenues of the city, together with the good condition of paving generally, level avenues of the city, afford an ideal place for the pleasures of automobiling.  Two styles of machines are noticeable.  They are what are termed the “runabout” and the “touring car”.  The runabout is the smaller vehicle, generally having but one seat and adapted to two persons.  The touring car is readily distinguished by its greater size and weight, and many have two, three or even four seats, and is suited for the accommodation of half a dozen or more passengers.  The latter machine is also more expensive, averaging from $1500 to $3000.  The runabout can be purchased for from $700 to $1200.  Of the three agencies used as motive power-electricity, steam and gasoline – the latter seems to be the most in favor.  It is asserted the gasoline engine requires less attention and is the most serviceable…