Homes For ‘Empire Builders’
Bobby Brett’s mansion at W612 Sumner is in the middle of a neighborhood of historic treasures.
The Marycliff-Cliff Park Historic District, formed in 1978, includes at least six homes designed by architect Kirtland Cutter. The Bretts’ home is one of those.
The district began to develop along Seventh Avenue in the late 1800s. The richest families in the city were attracted to the countrystyle estates along the rugged bluff.
Natural wood and basalt rock were used in some of the structures, helping them blend with the environment. The area quickly became fashionable. Bankers, politicians, businessmen and professionals bought the homes.
“With their new wealth, ambitious empire builders began to create what a popular architecture magazine of the period called the best built modern city of its size on the continent,” according to the 1978 historical survey of the district.
After the turn of the century, the development moved to the top of the bluff, where the Brett home is located. There, the streets are laid out like spokes on a wheel radiating from Cliff Park. Some have said it was Spokane’s first planned neighborhood.
One of the houses known as “Cliff Aerie” was built by former U.S. Sen. C.C. Dill in 1941.
Some of the earliest homes in the neighborhood have been torn down over the years.
The Brett home is English Tudor in style with some medieval touches. It has a high-pitched roof with prominent gables and chimneys.
The stucco portion of the exterior is decorated with wooden beams in a technique called half-timbering.
Probably the most elegant of the mansions are the Corbin Art Center owned by the city parks department and the former residences on the Marycliff Center campus.
Unlike Browne’s Addition west of downtown, the houses in the Cliff Park area are still single-family homes. The Bretts said they plan to keep their mansion like it is.