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Then and Now: American Legion Building

January 8, 2018 GMT

Businessman F. Lewis Clark was born in 1861 in Bangor, Maine. He was educated at Harvard and moved to Spokane in 1884. Over the next 30 years, he made a fortune in flour milling, land development, railroads and mining.

He and wife Winifred built a luxurious home at 703 W. 7th St. which still stands today.

As a founding member of the Spokane Club, he built the group a new club building at Washington Street and Riverside Avenue in 1900. Architect John K. Dow, perhaps influenced by the French styling of the Spokane County courthouse, added a steep roof, ornate dormers and balconies with Greek columns in the Renaissance Revival style. It was completed in 1900.

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The Spokane Chamber of Commerce was also in the building.

Clark loved to sail and took his yacht, the “Spokane,” to Europe, where he hobnobbed with Kaiser Wilhelm and other royalty in 1907.

The Clarks spared no expense on a 150-acre estate on Hayden Lake where the house was a replica of the Kaiser’s summer palace. The lake estate, called Honeysuckle Lodge, was completed in 1910.

Within a few years, Clark saw his health turn for the worse. Cancer was suspected, according to the website of the Clark House, now a luxury bed and breakfast. While on vacation in California in 1914, Clark dropped his wife at the train station in Santa Barbara and walked off into the night. He was never heard from again. His hat was found in the surf the next morning.

Winifred sold their possessions, including Honeysuckle Lodge, in 1922 and moved into an apartment. She died in 1940, leaving a modest estate of $10,000.

A fire in 1939 destroyed the roof of the club building, now called the Metals Building. A flat roof replaced it.

In 1946, American Legion Post 9 bought the building and stayed until 1973.

After many years of use by various groups and as a street-level business location, developers Steve and Tresa Schmautz restored the building in 2003, recreating the steep roofline and the ornate dormers and decorative touches.