Anthony McCue Cannon, an early founder of Spokane, made millions of dollars here in a little more than a decade but died broke in New York City in 1895.
His memory remains linked to the city he helped build in the names of Cannon’s Addition, Cannon Street, A.M. Cannon Park and swimming pool, Cannon Hill Park and the Cannon Hill neighborhood.
He arrived by horseback in 1878 and, with partner J.J. Browne, bought half of the original townsite of Spokane Falls from James Glover for $3,000 on a $50 down payment.
They platted Cannon’s and Browne’s additions, some of the most fashionable real estate in the city’s early years.
Cannon started his business career in Spokane running a general store, but he soon branched out into the Bank of Spokane Falls, milling, railroading and other ventures.
The opening of the Northern Pacific rail line through Spokane brought huge profits for Cannon and others who were invested in the city’s growth.
In 1883 Cannon built a spectacular Victorian mansion on a full city block along Third Avenue between Walnut and Cedar. He entertained many guests in the home. The site is now occupied by First Presbyterian Church.
The 22-room home had the first bathtubs in Spokane as well as gas lighting, hot-air heat, and a fountain in front. The bathtubs were made of mahogany lined with tin. Horse stables out back were also built of mahogany.
The mansion was moved in 1907 a few blocks east to make way for the church and converted to apartments. It was torn down in 1937 after fire gutted the upper floor.
After Spokane’s great fire of 1889, Cannon tapped his connections with Dutch investors to raise the capital needed to rebuild Spokane.
He built his own Marble Bank building and teamed up for construction of The Auditorium theater at the northwest corner of Post and Main.
By the early 1890s Cannon’s wealth was estimated at more than $3.5 million, including $2 million in property.
Cannon was a risk-taker, and the Panic of 1893 led to a collapse of his business empire.
His second wife died that same year.
Cannon married a divorcee six months later in Helena, an event then considered scandalous back in Spokane.
In an attempt to recoup his losses and regain his failing health, Cannon traveled to South America seeking new investments.
He died - reportedly at age 68 - in a New York hotel in 1895 and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in the family plot he established.
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