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Then and Now: Blodgett Mercantile in 1915

Mon., Sept. 16, 2013

Charles A. Blodgett, born in 1893 in Victor, Mont., arrived in Spokane at 18 and went to work. He learned the retail business working at a North Monroe grocery store. He opened his own store, Blodgett Mercantile, on the corner of Nevada and Wellesley in 1909. His tools, appliances, building supplies and garden seeds helped grow the Lidgerwood neighborhood while it was still on the rural outskirts of Spokane. After serving in World War I, Blodgett, with wife Emma and sons James and Lovell, immersed himself in public life. He was president of the Hamilton PTA, chaplain of his American Legion post and a scoutmaster for more than five years. He donated space in his store to establish the Lidgerwood branch library and donated a field near his store for Rogers High School sports teams. He helped found a Methodist church, taught Sunday school and was a member of the Hillyard Chamber of Commerce, the Masonic lodge and the Odd Fellows. He served as president of the grocers and merchants associations, locally and statewide. During the Depression, as hundreds of able-bodied men were unemployed and on the streets of Spokane, Blodgett joined the debate about how best to help the jobless, advocating a public works job program. No cash welfare, Blodgett said, but “These men should be given work as a matter of keeping their self-respect.” And they should be paid in groceries from the county commissary, he said. Blodgett died of a heart attack in 1947 and his son James, later a state legislator, built a new building and ran the business until 1971, when he retired to work on another passion, the building of a north-south freeway in Spokane. – Jesse Tinsley

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