A century of history means 100 years of milestones that have shaped the Hutton Settlement Children’s Home. Check out the interactive timeline below to learn about 10 highlights in our first 100 years.
Levi William Hutton was born in Fairfield, Iowa and was fully orphaned by the age of six. He was passed among relatives, mostly living on a farm with an uncle and his family. Young Levi never felt a part of a family and his schooling ended after the third grade as he was expected to earn his way by doing farm chores.
At age 18, Levi headed west to seek his fortune. After several years as an engineer on the “Rocky Mountain Division,” the Northern Pacific Railroad sent him to Wardner Junction, Idaho (now Kellogg) to drive an ore train into the mining country.
It was in Wardner Junction, Idaho (now Kellogg) that Levi met his wife, May Arkwright, who owned and operated a boarding house where Levi ate most of his meals. Lucky for Levi, she was the best cook in the West. May was a spirited and adventuresome woman and like Levi, she had a heart of gold, always concerning herself about the rights of workers, women, and children.
On Friday, the 13th (Levi Hutton’s ‘lucky day’) ore is discovered at the Hercules mine, turning the Hutton and their partners into millionaires.
Mr. Hutton, with that simple faith that typified his whole life, invested in a one-sixteenth, then one-thirty-second interest in what was to become the Hercules mine. For five years after acquiring an interest, Mr. Hutton together with August Paulsen, the Days and F.M. Rothrock, paid or worked to keep the mine going. None of them had much money and Mr. Hutton, after finishing his run for the railroad, would go into the mine and work a shift to keep up his end.
When ore was struck in 1901, it was so rich that they carried it out on their backs in sacks to get money enough to install machinery.
Less than two years after Hutton announces plans to build an orphanage in the Spokane Valley, the Hutton Settlement officially opens. Hutton carried the first child, four-year-old Jane Wiese, into Cottage One, on a bitterly cold afternoon. She had fallen on the nearly frozen ground, and he swept her up into his arms and took her quickly inside. She recalled that day some forty years later and added, “He was the greatest, kindest and most considerate person I’ve ever known.”
Hutton signs Deed of Trust, giving lands to the Settlement, having waited for his lucky day, Friday the 13th, to come up on the calendar. He attaches no conditions to his princely gift; asks no recognition; bars no religion or sect; requires no representation on the Board of Trustees; requires no guarantees of other funds for either the building or its maintenance.
“He does his kindly deed in true Hutton style – without strings of any nature and he does it on a true Hutton scale – broad, generous, consistent.”
One unforgettable entertainment of the 1920’s was an impromptu visit by Babe Ruth. In the off-season the famed New York Yankee traveled on the Pantages vaudeville circuit, which one winter brought him to Spokane. As Charles Gonser related it, Ruth himself grew up in an orphanage, and when he “heard about the Hutton Settlement he wanted to go out there. He went out and had breakfast with the boys… Then he and Mr. Hutton and the boys played baseball for quite a while.” Far from regarding it as a mere photo opportunity, the baseball legend stayed a considerable time and met the girls, too, and shook hands. Playing with Babe Ruth, getting “right close to him,” was the thrill of a lifetime for the budding second baseman-shortstop and alum Mike Matkeef. More than seven decades later he still remembered the day and marveled at Ruth’s power with a bat.
Levi Hutton dies of complications from diabetes. In addition to some small bequests, Mr. Hutton leaves the remainder of his fortune to The Hutton Settlement. Charles A. Conser, Levi’s personal assistant and trusted aide, named executor and administrator of The Settlement.
Nine years had passed since Levi Hutton had carries Jane Wiese into Cottage One. She later wrote, “His death was the greatest disaster of my life. I can remember that Saturday morning when we were told that he was dead. It was almost unbearable.”
Ever practical and modest, Levi Hutton had directed in his will that “simple services be conducted at my home, [followed by a] Masonic burial service.” Although the regard for him throughout the region virtually demanded a large public funeral, arrangements did follow the general outline of his wishes. The press reported next day:
“How well had been [Hutton’s] care of his large family was evidenced yesterday. All were better dressed that the average youngster and every boy looked as if he had just had a haircut… as the service proceeded many of the girls broke down, unable to stand their sorrow longer, for to many of them Mr. Hutton was the only father that they had ever known.”
In the fall of 1979, the sale was made final of Levi Hutton’s crown jewel, the “Hutton Building.” After eighteen months of discussion, in April 1979, the Financial Advisory Committee recommended selling “the Hutton Building and other properties in the block, if possible to one owner and not in separate pieces.” Fittingly, Margaret Cowles moved at the next board meeting to accept the recommendation. Setting a minimum price of $1.2 million, the Settlement soon advertised the property for sale.
Wayne Guthrie, a Spokane developer, among other interested parties, made an offer of $1,125,00 in June 1979. After further negotiation, Herbert Hamblen, the Settlement’s attorney, and longtime friend, approved a contract calling for a $500,000 down payment and a note for the balance at 10 percent interest. Philip Stanton and the rest of the Financial Advisory Committee recommended acceptance. In action heavy with symbolism, the board accepted the Guthrie offer on the motion of Helen Whitehouse Hamblen, who, other than Margaret Cowles, had the board’s longest ties to the Hutton Building. The sale closed in September, marking the divestiture of the last of the original endowment.
Currently, the Settlement owns and manages a diverse portfolio of over 20 properties that range from medical plazas, retail strip malls, industrial space to traditional office buildings. The rental income provides stability for the organization by funding the majority of daily operations at the Settlement.
While on-campus programs and activities have long supplemented the children’s education, over the past 20 years campus leadership has worked to strengthen programs that youth need in order to thrive. At Hutton, we strive to provide a holistic model of education and activity to provide and foster these assets and complement our children’s public school learning in the West Valley School District. With collaboration from school educators and university tutors, we engage our students in one-to-one relationships that assist them with academic success.
Through our SALUTE (Service and Leadership United Through Education) service-learning opportunities, Team Odyssey adventure program, and Journeys creative arts experience, Hutton helps youth develop critical thinking, emotional intelligence and creative processing skills for success. These on-campus extracurricular clubs are informed by solid asset-based research and designed to support resiliency development. While utilizing personal strengths and assets, SALUTE members look beyond themselves towards the needs of others through community and global engagement as well as activities that foster awareness, empathy and servant leadership skills.
Today, we celebrate a century of providing hope, opportunity and life to children in Spokane. Whole young adults have become contributing citizens, demonstrating the legacy that one man made. As we venture into the next 100, the hope is that we might continue to be as courageous in our mission as Levi Hutton was.
We aren’t just a place to live, but rather a neighborhood of care, providing opportunities for growth and development for children residing with us. Stay connected and see what’s going on at Hutton Settlement!