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Then and Now: Civil War hero leaves legacy

Col. David P. Jenkins was one of Spokane’s greatest benefactors. Before homesteading Spokane’s north side of the river, Jenkins, born in 1823, was a lawyer from Ohio, an acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln and a Civil War hero. After the war, he practiced law in Seattle for several years. When he heard about the impending connection of the Northern Pacific railroad to Spokane, he moved here around 1880, homesteading 157 acres on the north side of the Spokane River bounded by Howard Street, Cedar Street and Mallon Avenue. There were no bridges then, so he kept a boat tied up at the foot of the falls. Jenkins built the first college in Spokane in the area that is now Kendall Yards. Jenkins signed the Spokane City Charter in 1891. When Spokane College went under in the panic of 1893, he took it back and operated it. He donated a full city block for the Spokane County Courthouse, built in 1895. He was a friend of Chief Spokane Garry and Chief Joseph the Younger. He donated the land for the Plymouth Congregational Church. And he helped establish the Humane Society and donated the land for it. In 1907, Jenkins created a vocational school, Jenkins Institute, at the YMCA and endowed it with $50,000. It lasted through World War I. Jenkins also had a farm in Chewelah, where he donated the money and land for the first high school there in 1910. His daughter, Emma Rue, later donated the land for Spokane Coliseum, which is now the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. Jenkins died in 1915. – Jesse Tinsley


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