In 1886 Andrew Jackson Ross moved into Spokane and bought 480 acres two miles northeast of the town of Spokane Falls, Washington Territory. There he built his house along the Spokane River. The following year he and a group of investors formed a syndicate and platted the land, incorporating it as Ross Park Village, an independent town with mayor and council members. Ross Park was laid out in five-acre lots running in an arc parallel to the river. Many notable and wealthy pioneers established beautiful Victorian homes in that locale: merchant and later Spokane mayor E. L. Powell, Lawyer L. S. Roberts, Spokane mayor-to-be Horatio N. Belt, Judge L. B. Nash, philanthropist George W. Odell, LeRoi mine co-owner L. F. Williams, and others. Ross Park became a prominent and fashionable suburban neighborhood.
The house built at East 1603 North Crescent, now located at East 3111 Marshall Avenue, was originally constructed for Spokane pioneer and early bridge builder James Luther Bayley. Bayley came to the Spokane area in 1880 and quickly established himself as a prolific builder. His specialty was wood timber bridges, which were used almost exclusively during Spokane’s formative years in the 1870s and1880s. He built the bridge for M. M. Cowley at Spokane Bridge, the first Post Street Bridge, the first Mission Bridge, the high bridge at Sixth over Hangman Creek on the way to Medical Lake, and numerous others including many railroad bridges for D. C. Corbin and the Seattle Lake Shore & Eastern Railroad.
James Bayley purchased half of block six (two-and-a-half acres) diagonally behind the home of A. J. Ross. The Bayley house was built in 1889 from the designs of newly-arrived architect Loren L. Rand. Ross Park became an early showcase of Rand’s work; he designed houses for Belt, Powell, Roberts, Nash and Williams as well. Rand went on to draft plans for many important buildings in Spokane: the Crescent Store Building, the First Presbyterian Church, Lewis and Clark High School, and many other schools, buildings and residences. Bayley, his wife Sarah, and son Willy moved into their new six-bedroom home in 1889 or 1890.
In 1891 an expanding Spokane incorporated Ross Park into its city limits. In 1892 James Hill brought the Great Northern Railroad into Spokane, cutting across the northern and western perimeter of Ross Park, to within about 300 feet of Bayley’s house. (Many of the prominent homeowners moved out when the railroad moved in.) About this time Bayley’s fortunes began to turn. Whether it was because of the onset of the severe national financial “Panic of 1893”, or the series of contentious disagreements with headstrong City Engineer Byron Riblet, who held considerable power in selecting city contractors, or a general trend away from timber bridges in favor of steel, or the collection of all three, I am uncertain; nonetheless, he fell into severe financial difficulties. Unable to make mortgage payments, the property was foreclosed in 1896. It was sold at a Sheriff’s sale in 1899 and obtained by Charles Kingman, a wealthy local businessman who was co-owner of the Rasher & Kingman Company, purveyors of fine carriages, riding paraphernalia and farm machinery and implements (You can still see their huge sign painted on the side of the building at Wall Street and Railroad Avenue). Bayley left town and wound up at Ione in Pend Oreille County, northeast Washington. He continued building bridges and there met with considerable success, living out most of his remaining years on Huckleberry Mountain near that small community.
In 1905 James M. Geraghty, grandfather of past Spokane mayor Jack Geraghty, purchased the home from Kingman. James Geraghty at the time was corporate council to Washington Water Power Company. In 1907 he sold to WWP the site for their Ross Park Steam Plant, still standing, on A. J. Ross’ original home site. He became well-known state-wide as lawyer and politician, and was later appointed Washington State Supreme Court Justice.
The Bayley House is the finest existing remnant from Ross Park. Only two other original homes (dating from Ross Park Village days, 1886-1891) still remain: The immense home of Judge L. B. Nash (built 1888-9) across the river, and Andrew Ross’ original house (1886), greatly altered and twice relocated, now a half block south of the Bayley house's former location, at North Center and Ross Court. Saving the Bayley House represents a significant contribution to local historical preservation efforts. It is now on the Spokane Historical Register.