It was Spokane’s first neighborhood, and the idea for Browne’s Addition arrived in 1878 with two men. At the time, Spokane was named Spokane Falls and had a population of around 50 pioneers who were independently toughing it out. The two men were A.M. Cannon and J.J. Browne, and they saw the potential that Spokane Falls had to support a much larger population, mainly from the resources that the river provided. For $50 they purchased 1/4th of the city of Spokane Falls from founding father James Glover, and from this purchase came Browne’s Addition.
The northern pacific railroad reached Spokane Falls in 1881, and with that the population began to grow to above 1,000 Spokanites. As such, the wealthier citizens began to gravitate towards Browne’s Addition, as it was proximal to downtown, had Coeur d’Alene Park and offered views of the Spokane River. A trolly line to downtown was built to make the area even more compelling.
Homes were built in Queen Anne style, Craftsman, Tudor Revival, Neoclassical and Mission Revival styles. Notable architects were employed to design these homes including Kirtland Cutter, Albert Held and W.J. Carpenter. The plots of land were generous and the homes were quite large, the infamous Patsy Clark mansion itself held 27 rooms.
Unfortunately, the depression hit and changed the neighborhood quite a bit. In the 1930’s, many of the large mansions were converted to apartment units to offer low income housing to workers in the downtown area. There was a need for it, and this worked for a time, but the homes themselves fell into disrepair. The neighborhood suffered and became known as an undesirable place to live.
But this began to change when, in 1976, Browne’s Addition was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The placement inspired local residents to enact a plan to redesign and revitalize Browne’s Addition. Working with a Seattle based company, a plan was drafted to make the necessary changes the neighborhood. The historic mansions were renovated, historical information was conveyed with plaques, a traffic circle was installed, the Gazebo in Coeur d’Alene was reconstructed and street signs were replaced with an older design. It was a long process but, by the 1990s Browne’s Addition was getting back to its former days of glory.
Today, Browne’s Addition has become a wonderfully diverse neighborhood. It’s modern meets historic, large homes and large apartment buildings, urban yet peaceful. It attracts people who want proximity to downtown but value the history of the neighborhood. There are great restaurants surrounding the traffic circle, forming a bit of a downtown to Browne’s Addition itself. It attracts hikers with Overlook Park trails and the Latah Creek Valley. All in all it’s seen a wonderful revitalization and is a fascinating neighborhood to explore. Here are some of the famous homes of the area.
The Patsy Clark Mansion
Patrick Clark, known as Patsy because he was born on St Patty’s Day, was a mining magnate and spent a good percent of his youth working in the mining industry across the nation. He saw an opportunity in the growing town of Spokane Falls and in 1887 he relocated, opening the Poor Man mine in Coeur d’Alene. He lost his home in the Great Fire of 1889, and decided to build a larger, more extravagant home as a replacement. He hired Kirtland Cutter to design the Patsy Clark mansion, sending him abroad to gain architectural inspiration. Returning with Spanish & Moorish influences, Cutter designed the 27 room mansion in a very unique style for the time. Made with sandstone imported from Italy, it boasted 12,000 square feet of living space and 14 foot stained glass windows. It was the talk of the town, and the Clark family provided lavish interior decor. Patrick and Mary Clark lived in the mansion for their entire lives, and afterwards the mansion changed hands a few times. Unfortunately, it deteriorated due to neglect in the 1970s and barely escaped demolition.
But escape it did, and currently the mansion provides the home for a well-established law firm on it’s upper levels, with the first level being available for events and weddings. It adds character, diversity and beauty to Browne’s Addition.
2208 W 2nd Ave, Spokane, WA 99201
The Campbell House
An exquisite example of English Tudor Revival architecture, the Campbell House was designed by Kirtland Cutter for Amasa B. Campbell. Amasa Campbell previously had partnered with John A. Finch, and they operated a gem mine in the Coeur d’Alene mining district. Both men made their fortunes in mining and had mansions built close to one another in Browne’s Addition. Campbell and his family occupied the home for most of their lives. Their daughter, Helen, donated the home to the Eastern Washington Historical Society in 1920, once her parents had passed on. Fortunately, it is open to the public and tours can be purchased through the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.
2316 W 1st Ave, Spokane, WA 99201
David B Fotheringham was a successful building contractor who built this home for himself and his wife Mary. It was completed in 1891, and he lived in the home until it sold in 1926, at which point it was converted into apartments. Fotheringham became Spokane’s first mayor the year that the home was completed, and as such he was well known and heavily involved in the community. He was contracted to build the Patsy Clark mansion across the road from his home. The Fotheringham Residence features a classic English garden and wrap around porch. It was designed in the Queen Anne style. The house saw a renovation and restoration in 1984. Today it is available for lodging through Airbnb, and the property and grounds are well maintained.
2128 W 2nd Ave, Spokane, WA 99201
The Roberts Mansion
A wonderful example of a Queen Anne Victorian, the Roberts Mansion was originally built for someone else. It was being constructed for Bernhard Lowenburg, but he lost his business in the Great Fire and sadly, couldn’t afford to finish the construction. It was then purchased by EJ Roberts, who lived in the home with his family for 70 years. The home was designed by W James Carpenter, a prominent architect at the time. Roberts was president of Union Iron Works, and as such, had close ties to the railroad industry. Currently, the Roberts Mansion is an event center and Bed & Breakfast, and retains the historical interior design as well as the exterior detailing.
1923 W 1st Ave, Spokane, WA 99201
Possibly the first example of Mission Revival architecture in the Northwest, the Wakefield house belonged to attorney W.J.C. Wakefield. He served as attorney to Amasa Campbell & John A. Finch, arguably helping them to amass their fortunes in mining. The Wakefield house is proximal to the Finch Mansion and Campbell House, and also happens to be designed by Kirtland Cutter. The surprisingly versatility of Cutter’s architecture design is highlighted by this neighborhood. It is available to the public as a Bed & Breakfast currently, and it’s operated by the owners of the Odell House.
2325 W 1st Ave, Spokane, WA 99201
A unique combination of Craftsman and Queen Anne Architecture, the Odell House was designed by architect L.L. Rand. It was built for Real Estate investor, George Odell in 1899. The use of Tuscan columns to line the porch makes the home part of the ‘Free Classic Tradition’ of Queen Anne architecture. It remained as a single family house until after World War II, when it was converted into a series of apartments. Today, it is in wonderful shape and available for lodging as a charming Bed & Breakfast.
2325 W 1st Ave, Spokane, WA 99201
John A. Finch Mansion
Built in the Federal and Greek Revival style of architecture, the John A Finch Mansion has a stately air and exudes elegance. Finch commissioned Kirtland Cutter to design his mansion in 1889. Having made a fortune in mining with his partner Amasa Campbell, Finch saw the potential in Browne’s Addition and decided to built his mansion there. The interior features an array of design influences but is unified by neoclassical design. Finch was a philanthropist, and our beloved John A. Finch Arboretum came about as a result of his generosity. He donated 40% of his fortune to charity in his will. The home itself was later converted into apartments, and renamed the Virginia Apartments. Today, it is a well-maintained private residence, and can be enjoyed from a distance.
2340 W. 1st Ave Spokane, WA 99201