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HISTORY VISITING OUR STORIED PAST


at the park. Beautiful flower gardens and floral


sculptures


adorned the park, and a growing zoo captured the attention of young and old alike. Regular weekend band concerts and baseball games entertained the picnickers. Money was tight, but Charles Balzer crafted swing sets and other playground equipment for the children out of old power poles. In 1905, Charles Balzer


Aubrey White (Courtesy of Charlie Willies)


began acquiring animals for a fledgling zoo in the park, which at times contained as many as 165 animals. The zoo covered nearly a third of the park and became a major attraction. During Balzer’s


tenure as


park superintendent, his main focus was on Manito Park. Much of what he did was


at his own expense and beyond the expected duties. Park records reveal his dedication to Manito, and early photographs attest to his accomplishments, but the park board wanted more. During the time the park board was pushing for Balzer’s resignation,


Aubrey White met the assistant park superintendent for the Boston Park System, John W. Duncan. An offer was made and Duncan accepted. During Duncan’s tenure as superintendent, he made a number of


trips to the eastern states to gather ideas from established parks in larger cities. His greatest contribution and lasting legacy was with the design of the formal European-style garden. In 1941, the year before Duncan’s retirement, the park board honored his years of fine service as superintendent by changing the name of the garden from “Sunken’ to “Duncan.”


Cannon Hill Park Cannon Hill Park is located east of Lincoln Street between Eighteenth


and Shoshone Avenue. The park sits on about 13 acres and perhaps is one of the most picturesque neighborhood parks on the South Hill. In 1886, John T. Davie, who produced the first bricks in Spokane


Falls, purchased 80 acres with Henry Brook, a contractor and builder, at the site of present day Cannon Hill Park. They paid $30 for one of the 40-acre parcels and $50 for the other. Brook owned an additional 40 acres in the area. Following their purchase, Davie moved his brick operation from


Latah Creek and began producing the majority of the bricks used in the construction of the commercial buildings in downtown Spokane. In 1888, Davie sold out to Brook, who continued the operation for a short while before selling to a Mr. Belt and Joseph H. Spear. Belt soon gave up the business. Brook and Spear then joined in the formation of the Washington Brick & Lime Company, which was incorporated in 1889


Under Duncan’s supervision, the lake at Manito Park, called Mirror


Lake during the Montrose Park era, also underwent the first of many alterations. The overall effect in these alterations was a reduction in its size to what is now the duck pond. In the early days of the park, the spring-fed lake extended to the edge of Grand Boulevard. The main body of water was at the present site, with a canal extending to the east. This canal would almost dry up in the late summer, leaving an unattractive mosquito-infested swamp. At the west end of the lake, the water would seep onto nearby lots. In 1912, in order to contain the water, a concrete wall founded on bedrock was built along the north and west sides of the lake. Water from nearby springs was also diverted to the lake to keep the water level up. John Duncan initiated other changes at Manito Park during his


tenure. As previously stated, during this stage of the park’s development, he gradually incorporated some of the recommendations from the 1907 Olmsted Brothers’ report. When Duncan retired in 1942, he was designated Superintendent Emeritus of the Park System. The park board minutes credited Duncan with “creating one of the finest series of gardens in the country out of barren rocks, lakes and bogs.”


J.T. Davie and Company workers pose in front of bricks at what became Cannon Hill Park (MAC L86-1069) 152 SPOKANE CDA • May • 2011


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