Browne's Addition was Spokane's first neighborhood. For decades this neighborhood was an enclave for the city's elite residents. This tour begins and ends at the MAC. This tour is slightly less than 1.5 miles and highlights historic buildings here in the Browne's Addition neighborhood.
In the summer of 1878 the area called Spokane Falls was sparsely populated having only 54 residents. At this time James N. Glover still owned most of the city when John J. Browne came to Spokane from Portland in the summer. John J. Browne had worked in schools in the mid-west and became a lawyer, studying at the University of Michigan. Once he was in Spokane Falls J.J. Browne bought 120 acres of land with Mr. A.M. Cannon. This acreage was the beginning of what would become Browne's Addition and Cannon's Addition respectively.
By the end of the 19th Century the wealthy of Spokane were beginning to take notice of the fine surroundings in Browne's Addition and began moving into the neighborhood. Browne noticed the appeal of the location and in order to gain more land in this neighborhood he applied for and received a homestead grant for the part of Browne's Addition that he didn't already own. Browne's Addition was very attractive to Spokane Falls residents because of the proximity to downtown and it scenic location above the Spokane River. To make the neighborhood more attractive to wealthy residents John J. Browne, Henry C. Marshall and Andrew J. Ross incorporated the Spokane Street Railway Company on December 6th, 1886. By April 15th 1888 they had opened their first horse-drawn streetcar line, which incidentally ran from Browne's Addition to downtown.
In 1889 Fire swept through downtown Spokane, leaving the downtown core decimated in its wake. The fire, however was contained to downtown and the outlying neighborhoods, including Browne's Addition, were spared from the flames.
In order to promote home building in Browne's Addition and Cannon's Addition Browne and Cannon donated the land for Coeur d'Alene Park, taking half of the land from Browne's land and half from Cannon. The park was not only a selling point for properties but has been a great place for Spokanites to gather outdoors for over 120 years.
Beginning in the late 1920s the large mansions of Browne's Addition began to be sub-divided into apartment homes. These apartments filled the need of low income housing for many residents who also needed to be near the downtown core. This practice took place in many different mansions including the Finch and James Clark Mansions, which are on this tour.
From the 1930s through 1980 Browne's Addition was attracting a very different kind of resident than it had at the turn of the century. The new kind of resident of Browne's Addition was someone looking for low rent lodging while keeping close to the downtown. As more and more low rent residents moved into Browne's Addition the historic housing stock began to get run down from neglect and misuse. During this time many people referred to the neighborhood as Browne's Addiction because of the rampant drug use that became associated with the neighborhood.
In 1976 Browne's Addition was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a registered Historic District. This began the use of historic preservation in Spokane as a way not only to save old buildings but to revitalize their neighborhoods. The Browne's Addition Steering Committee worked with the MAKERS Company in Seattle to create the Browne's Addition Neighborhood Design Plan. This plan outlined how to increase the livability of the neighborhood while focusing on the historic aspects of the neighborhood.
Once the plan was finalized in 1986 the residents of Browne's Addition began to reverse the process of Urban Blight and began to re-claim their neighborhood as one of the most well maintained and organized neighborhoods in Spokane. The Steering Committee has used their funds to develop the neighborhood in terms of street tree plantings, sidewalk improvements to make the neighborhood more walkable and they have improved the neighborhood business district at the intersection of Pacific and Cannon Streets. Through these improvements and people Browne's Addition has reversed the Urban Blight trend and has been redeveloped with an eye towards their historic past.
Take some time out of your day to walk around this neighborhood and understand the importance of the residents of Browne's Addition and the homes within it.