Tall, stately shade trees, quiet mansions with deep porches, trendy commercial and retail center. This is Browne’s Addition, Spokane’s first neighborhood. It sits at the west end of Spokane, the only residential neighborhood within easy walking distance of downtown. Subdivided in the 1880s, the houses were built for wealthy clients in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Browne’s Addition is named for John J. Browne, a lawyer who settled in Spokane in the late 1800s. He and Mr. A.M. Cannon bought 120 acres of land – which became Browne’s Addition and Cannon’s Addition (another stately residential neighborhood found on Spokane’s South Hill).
At its height, Browne’s Addition was home to many of the wealthy merchants and business owners with downtown establishments. But boom times in Browne’s Addition lasted for less than 40 years. By the 1930s many of the mansions had been subdivided into rental units and the buildings and neighborhood were neglected. The neighborhood suffered several decades of decline.
In 1976 Browne’s Addition was added to the National Register of Historic Places, paving the way for historic preservation incentives. An active neighborhood council created a Browne’s Addition Design Plan, focused on revitalizing the neighborhood around its history.
Today the Browne’s Addition neighborhood is a vibrant, well-maintained mix of historic, single family homes and rental units. The residential area circles Coeur d’Alene Park, which is Spokane’s first park, and a lively commercial district with restaurants, coffee shops, and retail businesses. The Browne’s Addition Neighborhood Council is one of the most active in Spokane.
Coeur d’Alene Park is at the center of art, music and culture during the summer, drawing residents to picnic in the park and enjoy live music weekly during the summer. The park is also the site of Art Fest, an annual three-day juried art festival with more than 150 artists from all over the northwest.
The Museum of Arts and Culture, founded in 1916, inspires understanding of the history, cultures, communities, commerce and art of the Inland Northwest. The standing shows and special visiting shows bring school classes, other groups, and residents to the museum.
The Elk Drug Store was in business for 90 years, 50 of them at the Browne’s Addition location that now houses the trendy Elk Public House restaurant – known locally as “The Elk.” Sponsored by The Elk, Elkfest is an annual neighborhood party on the streets of Browne’s Addition with indie artists. It is free to the public and draws more than 10,000 people every year.
Some of the most beautiful homes in Browne’s Addition have been restored and returned to single family ownership. They include:
E.J. Roberts Mansion – Built in 1889 in the Victorian Queen Anne style for Bernard Lowenberg, who owned a mercantile in downtown Spokane. But he barely lived in the new house. When he lost his store in the great fire of 1889, he traded houses with his friend E.J. Roberts. The mansion has been apartments and, over the last 20 years, restored as a bed and breakfast and events center.
Patsy Clark Mansion – Designed by architect Kirtland cutter in 1897 for Patrick Clark, who made a fortune in mining. It has been used as a restaurant, law offices, and for weddings and private parties over the years.