THE RICKEY BLOCK (Some excerpts from Statesman Examiner archives)
The land on which this building stands comprises 70 feet on Main street, but was originally a part of the John Hofstetter Ranch.
The Rickey block is a memorial to John Rickey, who came to old Fort Colville in 1866 and traveled up and down the Columbia river for many years selling merchandise. He was elected county treasurer in 1888.
In the summer of 1892, Rickey first planned a two-story building at a cost of $10,000. While the building was in progress, the Masons and the Off Fellows came to Rickey to see about renting lodge rooms, and professional men wanted offices. He then changed the plans to make the building a three story at a cost of $18,000.
In 1895, David Barman, founder of Barman's department store, rented the ground floor and basement of the building and occupied it until he retired in 1909, but the tradition he established was carried on by other family members: Nephew Louis Strauss, and his son, Bob, who closed the business in 1987.
One element of Mr. Barman's decided success in mercantile lines was his faculty not only to make friends but to keep them. He was one of the best known men in the county, and his words was always good. He had a free hand in any and every benevolent cause. Every church in Colville can give witness to his generosity, and many a needy person has been aided by him, some directly, but more often indirectly and unknowingly. Even the county of Stevens is indebted to him for one of the largest gifts in the building of the courthouse. David Barman will not be forgotten.
In the panic of 1893, Rickey lost the building on a mortgage foreclosure to the U. S. Savings and Loan Co. In 1903, the building was bought by J. H. Young, and it was his headquarters for 11 years. Few men had as much to do with the actual development of Colville as did Harry Young. He was one of the chief boosters for the railway into Colville. He made considerable money from the Silver King mine, and invested it in Colville, which he called "the beautiful city". He maintained an office in the Rickey building, where he died at his own hand in 1914, loved and respected by the community because of his sterling qualities of generosity, sincerity and wholesomeness. He was a man of rare intelligence and understanding of human nature, and he bore the genuine western trait of aversion to hypocrisy in any form. In 1922, the property passed to Mrs. Anna Keller (Keller Museum), who was the widow of Harry Young.
Since the building first opened, quarters on the 3rd floor have been used by such lodges as the Masons, I.O.O.F., Knights of Pythias and Eagles. This room was also used for dances, and boasted a 3 story "out-house".
A room in the Southwest corner of the 3rd floor was used for a number of years by the Superior Court. One of the most famous criminal trials in the history of Stevens county was held in this courtroom on the top floor of the Rickey building in 1895, the State versus Charles Cummings for killing Joseph Roberts with a revolver at a road election at Fruitland in 1984. Judge Jesse Arthur presided; Charles Mantz was the prosecutor, and John Slater represented the defendant. Cummings, the killer, was county chairman of the populist part, and political prejudice ran high during the trials. The prosecution had Sheriff McMillan removed from acting in the case, and an elisor appointed, the only instance of the kind in the county history. McMillan was a democrat, Mantz was a republican, the defendant was a populist. Hence, the whole gamut of political preferences was run in connection with the trial. The wantonness of the killing was apparently recognized by the defendant, who took the opportunity while in jail to drink a dose of lye. Dr. M. R. Peck got the defendant in shape to be tried, and his attorneys got him off with a verdict of manslaughter.
A room in the Northwest quarters of the 3rd floor was once the chambers of the city council. The tax rolls were stolen from these rooms while the city checkers were conducting an investigation into an alleged shortage of the town marshal and tax collector. All the data regarding sources of town revenue for a period of 3 years disappeared, and the town went without revenue for a long time.
The Northeastern Washington Academy opened on the third floor in 1895 with an enrollment of 35 pupils, increasing to 70. Shorthand, bookkeeping and commercial subjects were taught for a tuition fee of $4 a month. The school was the beginning of higher education in Colville, and the Colville High School is the result of that spirit of progress which found its first manifestation on the top floor of the Rickey building in 1895-6.
The second floor of the building has housed the offices of such professional men as John B. Slater, Charles A. Mantz, George A. Allen, John S. Anderson, R. A. Thayer, H. G. Kirkpatrick, E. M. Allen, D. H. Carey, W. Lon Johnson, Drs. Hunt, Dean, Coin and Herbert A. Day.
The ghosts in the Rickey building are the interwoven relationships in the development of Colville. John Rickey build a good building on a good foundation, just as Colville itself was built, and the walls appear today without a break or crack. The work was done by day labor and the good condition of the walls at the present time is a tribute to the quality of the labor and materials that went into the building.
The building was purchased for $173,000 and restoration begun in 1994 by Jeanie and John Acorn. It was placed on the National Historic Registry in 1995.
It's now a popular tourist stop-off, well known for it's old time soda fountain, antiques, unique gifts, and local crafts.