Not much is left from the early development at the intersection of Spokane’s Monroe Street, Indiana Avenue and Northwest Boulevard.
Sturdy brick buildings have been replaced by restaurants and fast-food joints, shops and wood-framed retail shops. The holdout is the Boulevard building, at far right in both photos, which housed a hardware store from 1912 until last year. The business had been Monroe Hardware and, later, Stewart’s Hardware, selling shovels, laundry wringers, framing nails and galvanized wash tubs to folks in the neighborhood.
Monroe Hardware’s owner in part of the 1940s was Clarence D. Martin, born in 1886, a Cheney farm boy who became governor of Washington in the Great Depression. Martin, whose name is on the Washington State University football stadium, was swept into office in 1932 with Franklin D. Roosevelt and set about regulating banks, getting state money for Grand Coulee Dam construction and trying to create jobs. The conservative Democrat campaigned hard but used only his own money for the effort and was proud that he “gave away no cigars, kissed no babies and promised no jobs.” He even raised some hackles by appointing Republicans to key state jobs.
Martin closely followed the case of Herbert Niccolls Jr., convicted of first-degree murder of Sheriff John Wormell during a robbery in 1931. Niccolls was 12 years old. Martin wrote to the boy and visited him in prison and later paroled the 21-year-old after nearly 10 years in prison.
Martin lost the election of 1940. He gave generously to student scholarships and his alma mater, Cheney Normal School, which became Eastern Washington University. After his death in 1955, The Spokesman-Review wrote “He served the state well throughout eight critical years of its history.”
– Jesse Tinsley
1941: This view looks south from Indiana Avenue and Monroe Street in Spokane.
Present day: This photo looks south on Monroe toward the intersection of Indiana and Northwest Boulevard. The oldest building in the photo is probably the Boulevard Building, far right, former home of Stewart’s Hardware.