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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Then and Now: 915 and 919 W. First Ave.

Two buildings, both built in 1906, on First Ave. in Spokane, were important places of business for both farmers and urban residents.

On the left, Church’s Seed Store was at 915 W. First Ave. providing seeds for gardening and farming.

Henry Church’s store only lasted a few years, as did Anderson Seed. By 1912, a new company, Inland Seed, had one of the most popular seed catalogs in the region.

It was a great day when the catalog arrived in the mail, at city homes and rural farms, offering hundreds of seed varieties and gardening tools like hand cultivators, planters, chicken coops and bee hives. Cantaloupe, then called musk melon, and watermelon were popular seeds. Order sheets, included in the catalogs, were mailed or read over the telephone to order takers.

Inland Seed became part of Portland Seed Co. in the 1920s. In 1929, Ruth Sampson, daughter of Swedish immigrants and a gifted singer, opened Ruth Sampson Sheet Music. She moved into the old seed store building in 1953, and with husband Stephen Ayers operated Sampson-Ayers House of Music – one of the largest sheet music outlets in the country.

She ran the business for 50 years and died in 1991 at age 92. The building was later purchased by Carr Sales, an electrical supply company, next door at 919 W. First Ave., and now serves as a lighting showroom and warehouse space.

When the adjacent building was first built, it had been a hide and fur-buying business, possibly part of, or related to, the Spokane Hide and Fur Depot on the corner of First Avenue and Monroe Street. Carr Sales, a hardware store in the building since 1929, was transformed into an electric supply distributor when it was purchased by businessman Don Barnett in 1946. In 1971, Don’s son Rod Barnett, fresh out of law school, took over the family business, which includes an extensive lighting showroom.

Today, Carr Sales is operated today by Rod’s son, Richard Barnett.

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