DescriptionWhen Levi and May Arkwright Hutton struck silver ore in 1901 at the Hercules Mine, the couple's lives dramatically changed. Both from humble beginnings, the pair met while working on railroad in Idaho. Upon striking it rich, the two moved to Spokane in 1906 and built the Hutton building the following year. Originally built as a 4-story building, the Huttons moved in to the penthouse apartment on the top floor while their mine and other business headquarters were housed below. The over-sized foundation allowed for an additional three stories to be built in 1910 making the building what it is today.
While Levi Hutton concerned himself with the mining business, May Arkwright Hutton became a passionate and outspoken political activist. Known for her eccentric character, May Hutton was a prominent figure in the statewide women's suffrage movement, and took every opportunity to promote her cause. Early on, before she and her husband gained wealth, May Hutton brought up women’s suffrage in union meetings, and even ran for the Idaho legislature.
In 1896 Hutton finally succeeded in securing the vote for women in Idaho. Upon moving to Spokane, her political activism continued and caught the attention of many of Spokane’s elite, as she was a ball of energy who loved to dress up frequently in mens attire. After helping to secure the vote for women in Washington, May Arkwright Hutton became the first woman in Spokane to register to vote.
May was an outspoken Democrat declaring that she believes “that the people should rule” in a 1912 Spokesman Review editorial on her political beliefs. In May of 1912, Mrs. Hutton joined the suffrage party’s appeal to President Wilson on the vote, and was known across the nation for her activism in the suffrage cause. She was friends with three time presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, and was known throughout the United States for her work on women’s suffrage. In addition to women’s rights, the Huttons were concerned with labor unions and worker’s rights. Before striking rich, May Hutton even wrote a novel based on their experiences in the mines, called “The Coeur d’Alenes Or a Tale of the Modern Inquisition”. The novel focused on the mining strikes of the late 19th century and highlighted the labor unions in the mines.
The Hutton’s penthouse apartment in the Hutton building allowed for May Hutton to host social events in their home, and gave the couple easy access to the many charities they were involved in. Upon May Hutton’s death in 1915, her husband, Levi Hutton sought to establish a home for orphaned children as a lasting testament to their legacy. Having no children of their own, the couple was known to spend their money on worthy causes. The Hutton Settlement was no exception. Upon Levi Hutton’s death in 1928, the entire estate was left to fund the children’s home for years to come.
After the Huttons moved out in 1914, the building remained in the family estate until 1969. The building underwent a major renovation in 1989, after the building was acquired from the family estate twenty years earlier. Today it is the home of offices and local retail stores in downtown Spokane.