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Latah

 

The small towns of Eastern Washington were vital and active centers of commerce and social life. From the 1890s to the 1920s, many of these small towns faded out of existence, but Latah, about 20 miles southeast of Spokane, was an exception. Once a busy town south of Fairfield, a post office was established here as Hangman’s Creek on March 19, 1873, which became Alpha post office on April 25, 1881, and Latah on December 11, 1883. The population peaked population at 350 in 1910; in 1986 there were 150 people.

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Latah Schoolhouse

Built in 1908 and 1920 respectively, the Latah School and its attached gymnasium is one of the oldest, largest, and best preserved rural brick schoolhouses in the Palouse farming region. It has been restored and is today being used as a wedding venue. From 1908 to 1958, the schoolhouse symbolized Latah’s commitment to education and community development, serving as the area’s primary educational structure associated with the evolution of public education in Spokane County, the two-story, brick masonry Latah Schoolhouse reflects early twentieth-century building practices advocated for schools, including fire-resistant building materials and a preferred schoolhouse design for graded classrooms. Besides providing a public education to children and students from Latah and surrounding communities, the Latah Schoolhouse served as a meeting place for political, religious, benevolent, and other civic and social gatherings in the area. The Latah Schoolhouse is one of the best and last surviving examples of the early twentieth century property types, “rural brick schoolhouse” and “gymnasium.”

Ham-McEachern House

The best remnant of Latah’s vital years is the Ham-McEachern residence, a fine Queen Anne house in an excellent state of preservation. It was built in 1886 by D. T. Ham, co-founder of Latah’s first store, who became one of the most influential political and business leaders in Washington just after the turn of the century. The next major owner of the property was William McEachern, Latah’s first banker. The home has been closely related to Latah’s and Spokane County’s commercial and political history. Today, the house is the outstanding residence of the community.

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