If ever Robin Leach from the hit TV show "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" could time travel back to the late nineteenth century and do an exposé on homes of Spokane, he would certainly visit that of Anthony McCue Cannon, one of the city's founding fathers.
Cannon came to Spokane in 1878 when he and along with partner J.J. Browne purchased half of the townsite from James Glover. Cannon moved into a simple rustic cabin on the western side of Cedar Street between Third and Fourth Avenues where First Presbyterian Church stands today. However, to accommodate his wife and five children, Cannon needed to expand his residence. Construction began the following year. The completed structure was forty feet long by sixteen feet wide and featured a piazza and a courtyard enclosed by a fence where the Cannon's could socialize with Spokane's elite. Upon completion, it was widely regarded by townsfolk as the best-looking home in Spokane. However, Cannon was not done yet.
As Cannon amassed great wealth through business and the establishment of Spokane's first bank, he sought a dramatic improvement to his abode. In 1883, he cut his house in two and moved both portions across the street to the southwestern corner of the intersection at Cedar St. and Fourth Ave. There it would serve as a temporary house while Cannon constructed a huge Victorian-style mansion in the block's center. Four floors tall with twenty-two rooms in all, the home was a reflection of his opulent lifestyle. It was the first home in Spokane with a central heating system, gas lighting, and bathtubs he had custom made of mahogany with tin linings. The flooring was wood with parquet design; the walls were lined with tapestries. Windows were beveled and made of leaded glass. A Steinway grand piano ornamented the living room. At the rear of the property, Cannon built horse stables, also made with mahogany. To cap it off, he put a fountain in the front yard, another Spokane first.
He would not enjoy his mansion for long. The Panic of 1893 crippled his economic livelihood. The Northwestern & Pacific Hypotheekbank, a joint Dutch/American bank where Cannon was one of its first directors seized most of the businesses he founded and his two residences. A.M. Cannon died at a New York City Hotel in 1895 broke and penniless. Cannon was taken back to Spokane where his body laid in state at the mansion before being interred at the Greenwood Cemetery.
Nevertheless, he left a lasting legacy on the city that can still be seen today. A street, hill, park, city pool, and a platted addition all bear his name. Sadly, both of his residences did not survive. In 1898, J.W. Close purchased the land where Cannon moved his original home to and tore it down to make way for a new house. As for his extravagant mansion, the First Presbyterian Church purchased the lot from the Hypotheekbank for $12,000. Cannon was one of the church's original trustees. To honor and preserve his legacy, the church relocated his home three blocks east to the northwestern corner of Fourth Ave. and Jefferson St where it served as apartments. Unfortunately, a devastating fire in 1937 destroyed most of the upper floor and the building was subsequently demolished.