How Hillyard Became A City Against Its Better Judgment and Relectantly Stayed One for 29 Years

The story of when Hillyard became incorporated as a city is a fascinating and hilarious one. The main line of the Great Northern Railway, owned and operated by the so-called “Empire Builder” James Jerome Hill, reached Spokane on June 1, 1892. East of the City of Spokane, a large flat plain, originally called Horse Plains by early fur traders, was selected to be a major freight, roundhouse and repair facility for the railway. The railway named this spot the “East Spokane Station,” and early suggestions to name the station after Mr. Hill were dismissed by the Empire Builder as out of the question. Mr. Hill was very proud of his name. Originally christened simply “James Hill”, at age thirteen in 1851, he adopted the middle name of “Jerome” after Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother in admiration of the French conqueror and his family. “The Great Man” did not want his name associated with a lowly railway station. Continue Reading

“Wandermere: Spokane’s Family Playground” – Ep11 of the King’s Guide

On episode 11 of the King’s Guide, Chuck King welcomes West Valley school teacher, Ty Brown, whose family has operated Wandermere Golf Course for five generations. With never-seen-before family video and photographs, Ty shares the history of Wandermere, including the attractions of the tobaggan hill, ski jump, and more. Continue Reading

The Missing Elk of Greenwood Cemetery

On the newest episode of The King’s Guide, Chuck King pays his respects to the Elks Rest at Greenwood Memorial Terrace in Spokane, WA. Popularly known as the “Thousand Steps,” this cemetery once featured a life-size statue of an elk that stood guard over the resting place of Elks Club members. In the 1980s, the elk statue disappeared, but now, with Chuck’s help the elk will soon return home. Continue Reading

The Cutter Question: Who Was the Real Architect?

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. Continue Reading

Chuck King’s Guide to Spokane History, Episode 9: “Alvin ‘Buy Gum’ Wilson”

On the newest episode of The King’s Guide, Chuck King celebrates the life of Alvin “Buy Gum” Wilson, a street peddler who inspired the city of Spokane for two decades in the early 1900s. Earlier this summer, with the help of Inland Monument, Fairmount Memorial Association, and Nostalgia Magazine, Chuck King gathered with Jeff Sims and other history lovers to commemorate a new headstone for Buy Gum Wilson at Riverside Memorial Park. Continue Reading

“Buy Gum” Wilson: Early Spokane Street Peddler

Alvin L. Wilson was a familiar presence on the northwest corner of Stevens and Riverside in the first two decades of the 1900s. The bearded gentleman in a wheelchair called himself Shoestring Wilson, and was also known as “The Pencil Man.” He normally parked himself in front of the old Eagle Block, kitty-corner from the Paulsen Building. He spent his days making a living by peddling pencils, shoestrings, and collar buttons from a box mounted to the front of his wheelchair. Continue Reading

An Earlier Time: Memories of the West Central Neighborhood

Robert Scheel remembers growing up in Spokane’s West Central Neighborhood: “Time passed. The solid, middle-class neighborhood, where the doors were never locked, where you could play in the streets and yards until after dark and never worry about crime or leaving your bike or ball glove outside have become history. [My friends from the neighborhood] are all gone now. But they live on in my memories of my childhood, and the memories are so good.” Continue Reading

The Monroe Street Granite Retaining Wall

Chuck King, along with Tony and Suzanne Bamonte, explore the hidden history of North Monroe Street’s retaining wall and the history of the Granite Building, which stood for almost four decades at the corner of Washington and Riverside in downtown Spokane. Continue Reading

Chuck King’s Guide to Spokane History, Episode 8: “The Hidden History of the North Monroe Street Retaining Wall”

On the newest episode of The King’s Guide, Chuck King explores the hidden history of North Monroe Street’s retaining wall. You’ve probably seen this wall countless times and never even thought twice about it, but its history traces back before the Great Fire of 1889. History is all around us! Continue Reading