Thomas L. Catterson was born in Geneva, New York, in 1857 and moved to Spokane in 1884, becoming one of the first medical doctors in the eastern Washington territory. He had graduated from the University of Michigan and trained as a surgeon at the Detroit College of Medicine where his classmate was Dr. William Mayo, one of the founders of the famous clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
After practicing in Cheney for a few years, he opened an office in Spokane in 1887, when the city’s population was 1,000. There were three other doctors listed in the city. The small medical community treated patients from all over Eastern Washington, North Idaho, Western Montana and areas of British Columbia.
In those early days, doctors divided the county among themselves, and Davenport fell to Catterson. In the winter months, he would hitch up his horse to a lightweight sleigh, called a “cutter,” and leave home at 8 p.m. to drive all night and see patients in Davenport the next morning.
Catterson was a founder of the Spokane County Medical Association. He was the county physician from 1888 to 1890 and president of the board of health. Around 1905, he began working at Sacred Heart Hospital.
After the great fire of 1889, the doctor bought a home site that included several blocks at what is now Fourth Avenue and Maple Street. He paid $5,000 for the land and planned to develop the area.
In 1902, Catterson and his wife built a showplace home that still stands today at 2025 W. Fourth Ave.
In 1908, Catterson built a three-story-plus-basement apartment block on the southwest corner of Fourth and Maple Street and named it the Geneva Apartments, after his hometown.
In 1933, fire swept through the apartments, which the doctor had sold and recently repossessed from W.P. Shafer, and much of the interior was damaged. The fire department called it arson.
The damaged building was eventually bought by Elza Hurst and his Collateral Investment Co., which then spent $35,000 for repairs and modernization. Hurst renamed it the Maplehurst Apartments.
Catterson was an early adopter of the motor car, which replaced his horse and buggy. He insisted on painting his license plates to match the color of his car and happily paid the fines he received for doing so.
He died in 1936 at the age of 79.
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