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Sprague

Named for General John W. Sprague, director of the Northern Pacific Railway. The town is laid out at a 45-degree angle to the highway, as are most of the towns on this route, with the business section comprising a few blocks along First Street. On a gentle slope are a residence district, the high school, and grade school. The residential area still contains some unique turn of the 20th century homes, while the high school was rebuilt in the later half of the 20th century.

In and around Sprague is a considerable settlement of Irish Catholics, as indicated by names like Brislawn, Balfe, Gaffney, and Moylan. Dominating the town from the top of the hill are the Roman Catholic Church and St. Joseph’s Academy, a parochial school. The building of the academy, erected in 1886, was formerly used as a county courthouse, the first in the county, when Sprague was the county seat. In 1896 Davenport won county seat status away from Sprague and a new courthouse was commissioned. Four years later, the old county courthouse at Sprague was sold to the Catholic church and in 1905 the building became home to the St. Joseph Academy, Lincoln County’s first parochial and boarding school, founded in 1877. Although a Catholic church still stands at the top of the hill, the academy closed in 1965 and it is unclear what became of its building.

Stage routes once ran from Sprague to the north and west. Later, it became the shop headquarters of the Northern Pacific, rivaling Cheney and surpassing Spokane. The coming of good roads and fast cars diverted trade away from the town, and this, together with hard times for farmers and stock men, contributed to its slow decline.

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Mary Queen of Heaven Roman Catholic Church

Built in 1902 and designed by Spokane master architect Herman Preusse, Mary Queen of Heaven Church is a distinguished example of the Gothic Revival Style built for a small town parish at the turn of the century. Prominently sited on a hillside overlooking the railroad and farming town of Sprague, the church is characterized by a high level of craftsmanship, best reflected in pointed arch windows with stained glass, an ornate interior with ribbed arched ceiling and frescoes, and a gracefully proportioned steeple that rises above both town and countryside. Since its completion, the church has served parishioners from a 70-square mile area, and its tall spire has been visible for miles around. Today, the church retains outstanding interior and exterior integrity and is the most imposing architectural landmark in Sprague and its hinterland.