The sun was bright on June 27, 1887 when George Roley Dodson stepped off the Northern Pacific train onto the dock at the Milwaukee and St. Paul depot in Spokane Falls, Washington Territory. The ride from Decatur, Illinois had taken him across the Rocky Mountains and into a world that he would describe as being filled with “unrivaled scenic beauty.” He spent the first day getting used to the gritty taste left in his mouth from the dusty streets of this pioneer outpost. Nonetheless, he was completely enthralled with all of the activity he saw. From the powerful falls in the river to comparing real estate prices and wages to his hometown Decatur, the twenty-six-year-old jeweler liked what he saw.
The name of Patsy Clark may conjure up an image of a beautiful, old mansion across from the Coeur d’Alene Park in Browne’s Addition or a delightful meal for a special occasion such as an anniversary or birthday when that same mansion was Patsy Clark’s Restaurant for twenty years. But, there is much more to Patsy’s story than a mansion that became a restaurant. Patsy Clark was my great-grandfather and for the past four years, I have been researching his life. In 1851, Patsy Clark’s life odyssey started in Ireland, approximately the same time most history books cite the end of the horrendous potato famine. Striking out from the Emerald Isle to Liverpool, England in 1872 with his eldest brother, James, the two young men caught a “coffin ship” to the New World where they sought their fortunes in the raw, untamed wilderness of the American West. It’s safe to say they had better luck than the average prospector of the late 1800s. While many people remember the mansion, even more it seems know next to nothing about the man, Patsy Clark. I set out to learn his story, and now, to share it.
Although it was strongly proposed at the time of his death, his name today is not attached to any street, park, building or other public feature of the city to which he contributed so much. It is found only in the crevices of history by scholars who look hard enough, and on a cemetery monument sufficiently imposing that the few passersby will wonder who the fellow could have been to have put up such a chunk of stone. The Masonic Grand Lodge of Washington wrote: “…the history of this city can never be written without his name, for he was one of the cornerstones of its prosperity, and was concerned in a number of the most important business enterprises in Spokane and Spokane County.” And yet, no one is a better exemplar of the Latin phrase Sic transit gloria mundi – “Thus passes the glory of the world.” Truly this was a man his city forgot. This man was my great-great-grandfather, Edward James Brickell. With the help of Chuck King, and many others, his story is now no longer buried in archives and newspapers. His story is ready to emerge from the shadows.
My grandfather was Swedish born architect Gustav Albin Pehrson, who designed an impressive array of buildings in the western United States, including Spokane’s Paulsen Center, Roosevelt Apartments, Eldridge Building, Missoula’s Florence Hotel, as well as the town of Richland, Washington as it was built up in 1943 for the Hanford Project. According to newspaper clippings and family archives, other notable Pehrson projects include the Chronicle Building, Western Union Life Building, Schade Brewery, and many residences including the Hebert House, Priess House, Kirk Thompson House, Victor Dessert House and Louie Davenport’s summer home “Flowerfield” along the Little Spokane River (now the campus of St. George’s School). But did he also design the famous Davenport Hotel, credited to Kirtland Cutter? My family set to find out.
Part one of Doris Woodward’s three-part series on Burke, Idaho introduces you to a once-bustling industrial area where now there are only scatterings of buildings, but where some of the once handsome and well-built buildings of the Hecla mine still exist. They stand as a silent sentinel and reminder of the spectacular mining activity that took place in this area beginning over a hundred years ago.
Is there any character in Spokane history more suited to the nickname “The St. Patrick of Spokane?” That the nickname was never bestowed, notwithstanding, “Patsy” Clark remains one of the most beloved historical figures in our region, and it happens that he was born on March 17 in Ireland. Possibly just as “lucky,” he married the love of his life on March 17 as well, in 1881, at the age of 30.
By Tom McArthur Pictured above, J.W. McArthur standing at the doorway of his first pharmacy, at the corner of Sprague and Monroe, circa 1890. Today, the Fox Theater stands on this spot. Photo courtesy of the McArthur Family Archives. I smile every time I walk