The Broads met in Spokane and love them some Spokane. Here are the weird stories from the Lilac City that we’ve covered so far…
The Hahn Mansion (Episode 24 and Episode 25): Originally, this home on Spokane’s South Hill was the “Love Cottage,” a bungalow for the boy toy of a silver mine magnate known as Hecla. Thanks to his philandering, they never spent any happy hours together in the space. Next, it became the property of “Dr.” Rudolph Hahn, a self-taught lobotomist and abortionist. On Hahn’s watch, the property saw some mighty weird shit, including a car being driven into a pool, his wife’s mysterious death – ruled a suicide although the room was riddled with bullet holes – and many illicit surgical procedures. Hahn himself was stabbed to death with a bayonet from his own antique weapon collection, and his ghost still pushes around his old desk in his old office, despite the preferences of its new tenant.
Manito Park (Episode 9): It’s a lovely old place on Spokane’s South Hill that boasts a Japanese Garden, a formal garden, a rose garden, and the lilacs that gave the Lilac City its name. But in its early days, Manito Park was the home of many ambitious projects meant to lure Spokanites to the new development – including a spark-flinging, horse-startling electric trolley and a loosely supervised zoo where a bear once tore an arm off a visitor. The developer of Manito, Francis Cook, was an early Spokane settler who founded the Spokan (no e) Times and had infinite beef with the other city founders, including one spat that boiled over into a visit from Anthony Cannon and his son-in-law, revolvers in hand and ready to demand a retraction. After a brief scuffle, Cook sent both attackers packing and didn’t get a scrape on him. Newspaper editors could really throw down in those days.
We highly recommend the great book by Suzanne and Tony Bamonte about Manito Park, which includes beautiful photos and tons more interesting stories. (Pic is an affiliate link, also available at Auntie’s Bookstore and at Spokane-area libraries.)
The Thousand Steps (Episode #5, a “Lost Episode” available through our Patreon): West of downtown Spokane is Greenwood Cemetery, a beautiful boneyard dating back to 1888. As the old pioneer burial grounds of early Spokane started to overflow, town founder Anthony Cannon bought this land to turn into a railroad. Railroad? Yeah, when that didn’t work, he turned it into a cemetery instead. The Cemetery is the home of the legendary Thousand Steps, of which there are actually about sixty (but supposedly they feel like a thousand steps, and supposedly you’ll never make it to the top because of all the ghosts you’ll encounter). The entrance to the steps is behind a dilapidated mausoleum originally owned by the Elks. Several theories exist to explain the presence of the stairs, but the most likely explanation is that the Elks originally meant to be buried on terraces nearby – but abandoned the site after their families objected. Legendarily, the Steps are the site of Satanic rituals and ghost sightings. Will you make it to the top?
The Haunted Intersection (Episode #4, a “Lost Episode” available through our Patreon): In 1890, workers for the Northern Pacific Railroad were setting up more than 200 lbs of dynamite before heading home for dinner. Unfortunately, the charge went off prematurely, killing 26 workers. 15 bodies were recovered and buried in a mass grave in Greenwood Cemetery (site of the Thousand Steps), while the remainder were never recovered. This intersection/gravesite is supposedly a hotbed of ghostly activity, and certainly is one of the deadliest intersections in Spokane.
The Davenport Hotel (Episode #14): The Davenport Hotel is a gem of Spokane’s downtown, with a signature elegance that has survived over 100 years. The Davenport also has its share of hauntings, including the original proprietor, Louis Davenport – staff say that they sometimes see him standing in his robe and slippers, scowling at them as they dust the intricate woodwork. An unseen bellman helps push luggage carts and open doors for visitors, and sounds of a Prohibition-era party waft from the spa that operates on the site of the hotel’s former speakeasy. And of course, there’s poor Ellen McNamara, who got turned around during the renovations of the atrium ceiling and plunged three stories to the lobby floor below. Although she passed away in 1920, some psychically sensitive guests have reported that they can still hear her repeating in death her last words from life… “Where did I turn? Where did I turn?”
The Division Street Bridge (Episode #33): As part of our Ghost Train/Train Ghost episode, we discussed the Division Street Bridge trolley disaster (relevant portion starts at 46:30). On a snowy, pre-dawn winter morning in 1915, two trolleys passed each other on this bridge. The bridge collapsed beneath them, pulling one directly into the river and leaving one dangling from the bridge’s remains. Multiple people died in the freezing water, and at least one Spokane psychic says the echoes of their last moments can still be heard to the spiritually inclined…
The Corbin Mansion (Episode #1, a “Lost Episode” available through our Patreon): Designed by the same architect as the Davenport, the Corbin Mansion was home to strangeness both before and after the death of its original resident. D.C. Corbin was a city founder of Spokane, but not one that was particularly popular in his day. He directed his coachman to race through town without slowing at intersections, and his rudeness was legendary. After Corbin’s first wife deemed Spokane a “dirty little place full of dirty little people,” he lived alone in Spokane. Alone, but with a Swedish housekeeper named Anna who eventually became the second Mrs. Corbin. Anna was never accepted by Spokane society, nor does she seem to have had a very happy marriage. She spent many hours sitting on the window’s edge, looking out at the beautiful grounds of her beautiful prison. When D.C. died, he left her only enough money to minimally keep the house operational and staffed – money that she would lose if she ever sold the house. So Anna stayed on for many years. She entered into an affair with her chauffeur, and – depending on who you asked – either incited him to burn the mansion down for the insurance money, or attempted the arson herself and tried to pin it on him after the fact. Either way, the home didn’t burn much and the plan was unsuccessful. Anna spent some years in a mental hospital, and after returning to the mansion, converted it into a rest home.
The Marks Family Curse (Episode 39, “Cursing Spokane.”): Not everyone waits until their death to visit misfortune upon those who have wronged them. The Spokane Police Department committed an illegal search and seizure against two families belonging to the Marks clan of Romani. To cover all their bases, Jimmy Marks both sued the police department and cursed Spokane City Hall. After his death in 2007, some say the curse was resolved… but others disagree.
The Disappearance of F. Lewis Clark (Episode 48): In his jazz-age heyday, F. Lewis Clark was a millionaire yachtsman who had one beautiful house in Spokane, had a second gorgeous place in Hayden Lake, Idaho, and who was a founding member of the Spokane Club. One night, while the Clarks were wintering in Santa Barbara, F. Lewis delivered his wife, Winifred, to the train station so she can go on a visit. He dismisses his chauffeur, saying he’ll walk home… and is never seen again. There’s a whole other sideline of con artists and psychics, false leads in the form of other bodies washed ashore, but to this date the case remains officially unsolved.
There are a million more weird stories in the Lilac City… we have several on our future episodes list, including the exorcism of Monaghan Mansion, the story of Willie Willey, strange tales from Fairchild Airforce Base, the ice caves, the Great Fire, the Patsy Clark Mansion, and the notorious Rainbow Man.