Then and Now

Dodd block

The former Dodd Block was named for Charles H. Dodd, who was born in New York City in 1838. At age nine, he went to live with a well-to-do family in Stamford, Connecticut and he received an excellent education until the age of 16, when he entered Yale College. After two years there, he was recruited to build the new railroad through Panama in 1855. Later he worked for a shipping company and traveled extensively around South America. During the Civil War, he served in the Esmeralda Rifles, a California-based infantry unit that suppressed Indian uprisings in the Southwest states.


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The former Dodd Block was named for Charles H. Dodd, who was born in New York City in 1838. At age nine, he went to live with a well-to-do family in Stamford, Connecticut and he received an excellent education until the age of 16, when he entered Yale College. After two years there, he was recruited to build the new railroad through Panama in 1855. Later he worked for a shipping company and traveled extensively around South America. During the Civil War, he served in the Esmeralda Rifles, a California-based infantry unit that suppressed Indian uprisings in the Southwest states.
After marrying in 1866, Dodd and his new wife, Lucy Sprout, settled in Salem, Oregon and started a hardware store, later moving to Portland and joining another equipment business. He went on to build branch stores selling hardware and farm equipment in Oregon, Idaho and Washington, including Spokane in 1886. He lost his first building in Spokane’s massive 1889 fire and six days later broke ground on a new S-shaped building at Riverside and Monroe. The empty lot had to be filled with gravel because it sloped north down to the river canyon. The three-story building was across the street from the curved Crescent building, which lent its name to the department store that started there. Dodd’s dealership left town in 1898, but the building later housed the dry goods store of Miller, Mower and Flynne, which was well known for Irish linens. In 1902, the Spokane Chronicle built a gymnasium in the basement of the Dodd so that newspaper boys could play in a heated gym while waiting for papers to be dropped off. In 1964, the General Services Administration of the federal government bought the aging Dodd and the buildings around it for the new $8 million federal building that opened in 1966. The serpentine curb line was changed to match the south side of the street and a plaza with a fountain was built there. Charles Dodd, one of Portland’s most influential citizens, died in 1921. He was instrumental in uniting three municipalities into the city of Portland, serving on the Portland school board and giving money to charitable causes.


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