Boulevard Mercantile occupies a wedge shaped brick building at the intersection of Monroe, Indiana and Northwest Boulevard. Perched there at the apex of the wedge, it has a friendly facade and many antenna projecting from the roof. I am a frequent customer as the owners of the store are great treasure hunters and the store is filled with a display of frequently rotating wonders. Recent purchases of mine have included an enormous coffee table book on the paintings of John Singer Sargent (score!) and an antique cast iron Christmas Tree stand that I got as a present for my mom. Their window displays never fail to make me smile, even when I'm stuck in my car at the red light. Currently they have a huge red star light up sign with a plane on it and it sparkles from behind the glass. Sometimes I day dream about buying that star. But WHERE would I put it?!
Spokane is a town of trains. Grain, oil, coal, and more. Beautiful Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane used to be a giant rail yard, so did trendy Kendall Yards. Hillyard, a neighborhood to the north and east of downtown is named after "Hill's Yard", another rail yard. Trains are still alive and active in many parts of the city, as seen in the raised bridges at the base of Sunset Hill, running through downtown, and most particularly, to the east of the city out to the edge of the valley where grain elevators pop up along Spague, like giant grey mushrooms. I used to work out not far from the Spokane Fair Grounds and stopped for train crossings was fairly common when I was out running errands. I often drove over the Fancher bridge to the Parkwater Post Office and always enjoyed seeing the Yardley train yard to the east of the bridge and the Parkwater Yard on the west side.
On the other side of the bridge, I'd always admired the brick buildings in the yard. They looked like they had a story. Hearsay says that this large building here used to be a blacksmithry, where repairs were done on site for the trains. This yard has been in use for around 100 years! It is also said that these brick buildings are original Northern Pacific Railroad structures, but I don't have a good source for that so, I don't know if it is true. Are there any train historians out there? If so, please contact me, I'd love to learn more! Especially because I heard a rumor that all the bricks used to build these structures were once used as ballast in old ships! (What a romantic notion!).