Brian Shute, Ph.D., CCC
Speech-Language Pathologist
P.O. Box 30621
Spokane, WA 99223

Franklin Photo/Exhibit Gallery Pre-1909
Article By: Brian Shute, Ph.D., CCC

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This rare photograph was perhaps the first group picture at the original Franklin School located on Front (now Trent) and Grant Streets. The photograph was taken shortly after the completion of the school, circa 1889. When magnified the students are standing amongst large rocks that were moved out of the way when building. In the left lower corner, "Emil Guenther, Architect," is printed. Particular thanks to Bill Bronsch for this photograph.


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This extraordinary picture of the original Franklin School was taken when it was located on Front (now Trent) and Grant Streets. The school was built in 1889 and this picture was taken "circa 1904." The school was gutted by fire (arson) about a year after it was purchased by the railroad, and then it was torn down in 1910.

This is, however, a very interesting picture for several reasons,especially when magnified. First, the three people seen congregating in front, are really only two. One of the two individuals moved during the period the film was being exposed. The same is true for the individual going up the school steps, as he or she is only a shadow of a moving person. This, perhaps, offers clues about the early camera used to take the shot. Second, the clock is at 6:00 sharp and there is snow on the ground, perhaps indicating the time of year. Ray Mosher noted that in all the pictures and sketches of the old school, the clock always showed 6:00. Perhaps the clock never worked or did so for a short time.

Historical Note: Recently, I learned from reporter, Pia Hallenberg Christensen, that it was customary to set clocks to 6:00 for photographs. Back in the early days, pictures were a big deal and symmetry was important. Caddywompus clocks were not as nice for pictures when compared to the nice, straight, up and down form. I believe this is true because several pictures of old schools show a consistent 6:00 on their clocks.

Shadows on the ground suggest that the sun was in the western sky. Third, there are signs attached to the wooden fence that separates the walkway from the road. When magnified, one sign (along the road on the fence, behind the person) is almost legible. It reads something like, "Wind Restaurant Meals 10c & Up Off May and Market." Fourth, the walkway by the road may be a wooden one or perhaps the cement forms were very narrow similar to wooden slats. Fifth, the trees planted in front are young and the one on the right is a near sapling. There is a wooden fence around it to protect it from a mower or deer or students.

The power poles are fairly new and unblemished. One might think that electrical power was run along Front Street (now Trent) much sooner than 1904. This notion and the age of the young trees, along with the slow exposure of the camera cast questions about the true age of the photograph. Could it be older and closer to the school's earliest days? Compare it to the next picture taken in 1902 and published in the Biennial Report of the Public Schools of Spokane, WA, 1901-1902. Finally, check out the wood pile to the right. Ray Mosher expressed, "The pile looks to be two cords (4ft x 4ft x 8ft, each) high, seven cords wide, and who knows, maybe four cords deep (north-south). Sounds like about 56 cords. That took some work!" Given the chimneys scattered on the roof, there is little doubt that wood was used to heat the place. Special thanks to the MAC Museum for this and other images from yesteryear.

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This 1902 photograph of the original Franklin school shows larger, more mature trees. Its age is certifiable because of the dated publication it was found (Biennial Report of the Public Schools of Spokane, WA, 1901-1902).


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This is the Grant School in 1899.


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