J&D Paints

Ghost Signs of Spokane Tour

The faded J&D Paints advertisement on the side of this building describes more than paint, it is a relic of a time when Spokane was a city of neighborhoods, each with its own miniature commercial district.

As the population of Spokane grew in the late 1800's, residential pockets sprouted around the major employment industries of the region, creating small, independent and self-sufficient neighborhoods. This section along the west bank of the Spokane River was once the commercial nucleus for one such neighborhood, the West Central district. West Central has experienced some growing pains since its development on the north side of Kendall Yards.

At the birth of Spokane, the land across the river was still wilderness and only reachable by a primitive ferry system. In 1887 William and William O. Nettleton bought the land and developed it into what would be in 1909 the neighborhood for the "up-and-coming middle class."

As the neighborhood developed, businesses came to W. Broadway including a grocery store, auto-repair shop, bakers, confectioners and barbers. Broadway Pharmacy was opened at 1730 W. Broadway in 1900 by Canadian James W. McArthur. It moved after the first year to 1726 W. Broadway and became a center of the community. The pharmacy did more than fill prescriptions. Not only could local residents receive medical advice from the druggist and find tonic for all remedies, but they could also find a variety of supplies and dry goods. It also served as a remote Post Office and place of voter registration for the citizens of Spokane.

McArthur became a well-known druggist, serving as President of the Washington State Pharmacy Association in 1901 and 1902. In 1909 Governor Hay asked him to resign as a member of the State Board of Pharmacy. The governor did not state a reason, but McArthur's friends suspected it was a result of a "rumpus with Joe Smith, a newspaper man in Olympia," where "he punched Joe in the face." The pharmacy remained in business until 1990 under various proprietors in two other locations. When the rail companies left these lines to deteriorate, the neighborhood followed. An effort by the local residents to rejuvenate this once thriving and bustling neighborhood, including getting Nettleton's Addition on the National Historic Register (the largest district in Washington state) has been successful.

Though Broadway Pharmacy has been in four locations along the street throughout its ninety-year history, the remaining building at 1722 W. Broadway and the fading advertisement is a reminder to the local residents of the rich history of the once thriving and prominent neighborhood of West Central.