Levi Hutton

The founder, Mr. Levi Hutton, was born in 1860 in Fairfield, Iowa but was orphaned at the age of 6. He was passed around among relatives, mostly living on a farm with an uncle and his family. Young Levi never felt a part of a family. 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 a year in Oregon and a year working among the redwoods of California Levi headed north to Idaho. He was a fireman on both a steamboat and a locomotive before becoming a railroad engineer.

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. These were exciting times as people had big dreams of one day striking it rich.

May Arkwright

It was 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.

Shortly after they were married in 1887, Levi (called Al by his friends) was transferred to the new town of Wallace where they bought a two-room shack on a steep hill overlooking the tracks.

The year 1897 was an important milestone in the lives of the Hutton’s when, along with five others, they invested in the Hercules Mine. After pouring money and hard work into their “hole in the ground,” they struck it rich in June of 1901. As millionaires, day-to-day life for the Hutton’s changed, but their values and compassionate spirit remained intact.

In 1906, they moved to Spokane so Levi would have a broader field for his investments and May would have more political, social and literary opportunities.

Levi began a string of businesses, invested in others and built the Hutton Building. The fourth floor of that building served as their home until 1914, when they built a house on the south side of Spokane. May, all six feet and 225 pounds of her, shook Spokane Society. They were not used to a woman who dressed outlandishly and spoke her mind. May died in 1915 at the age of 55.

Since his childhood as an orphan it had been Levi’s dream to build a home for children. It was to be a “home,” not an institution. It had to be a secure place where families could stay together and not be shifted about.

In 1919, the Hutton Settlement was born. The following year, Levi was recognized at the Shrine convention by the national Imperial Potentate who said, “If one man could build and do for children what Mr. Hutton has done, what could 500,000 Shriners do?” Consequently, at the next convention, a plan was initiated to start the Shrine Hospital for Crippled Children.

For nine years, Daddy Hutton was able to enjoy the children and to be an intricate part of their lives. These years included a visit from Babe Ruth, who was also an orphan as a child, who played baseball with the Hutton boys.

On November 3, 1928 Levi died. He fulfilled his dream and left a treasured legacy for the many children who have called Hutton Settlement “home.”

Centennial Year

In 2019 Hutton celebrated a century of history meaning 100 years of milestones that have shaped the Hutton Settlement Children’s Home. Explore the last century of Hutton with this Northwest Profiles episode.

Explore more of Hutton’s History by visiting these additional resources:

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram