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Building a Background 

by Ann M. Colford

In 1873, James Glover established the first sawmill at Spokane Falls, staking his personal claim as the "Father of Spokane." Fifteen years later, he hired a fresh-faced young architect named Kirtland Cutter to design a grand mansion for him on the leafy slopes of the growing city's South Hill. Sadly, just three years after moving in, Glover lost nearly everything he owned in the economic panic of the early 1890s - including his home.

Others in the new city fared far better, thanks to the booming growth of mining and railroads. Among the beneficiaries was Patrick "Patsy" Clark, who rode the success of his Hecla Mining Company to the pinnacle of Spokane society. In keeping with his premier position, Clark called upon Cutter -- by then an established architect in high demand -- to create for him the most luxurious mansion in the city. When it was completed in 1897, the Patsy Clark House boasted exotic Moorish influences and windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Clark lived in sumptuous style in the mansion until his death in 1915; his widow continued on until 1926. Since that time, the house has remained one of the city's grandest landmarks.

Just three years after Patsy Clark commissioned his home, another Clark -- F. Lewis Clark, a wealthy business owner with investments in real estate and mining -- financed an elegant Beaux Arts tower at Riverside and Washington for the Spokane Club. The city's elite enjoyed the views from their club rooms on the upper floors for a decade before the club decamped for new quarters at Riverside and Monroe. The same year, a fire destroyed the roof and the top two floors; the owners simply roofed over the top of the fifth floor and called it good. The Spokane Chamber of Commerce moved into the space, and their tenure was followed by the Metals Bank of Montana. In 1948, the American Legion, bursting with new members following World War II, bought the building and owned it till 1973. Sliding into a slow decline, the building sat mostly vacant for much of the 1980s and 1990s and rarely drew any attention.

Publication date: 04/29/04
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