The Campbell House – Spokane, Washington - Atlas Obscura

The Campbell House

This Spokane mansion and the stories within its walls have been brought back to life, thanks to careful restoration. 

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Immerse yourself in an experience of mining wealth in the early 1900s by visiting this perfectly preserved mansion. Once owned by the illustrious Campbell family, the house, its grounds, and the ornate carriage house are now known as “the largest artifact” in the collection of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.

Each of the house’s rooms tells a story, from the gilded golden guest reception room to the long dining room filled with striking blue-and-white Dutch tile. While the whole place has an air of time-travel about it, some (the kitchen in particular) will transport you right back to when the Campbell’s Swedish cook, Hulga, hummed a tune while baking tray after tray of her famous Christmas cookies. In December, you’ll actually find Hulga in the kitchen (portrayed by a fantastic local actress) baking in the large oven the Campbells had specially imported for her. Under her watchful eye, you can help mix the batter, roll out the dough, and taste some of the delicious cookies yourself.

If you enjoy wandering, you can take the tiny butler’s staircase to the second floor and explore the generous family bedrooms and sitting areas before ascending even higher to the servant’s quarters. Come back downstairs via the grand staircase, taking in all the art the Campbells amassed over their years there.

On the lowest level, you’ll find maids working through the monumental task of laundering the family’s clothes. While they let you know they mustn’t dawdle, they’re glad to explain how Mr. Campbell likes his shirtfronts starched just so, and Miss Helen’s dresses were the latest fashions from Paris, all while wielding cast iron clothing irons and washboards with aplomb.

Don’t forget to wander into the carriage house to ask the coachman to tell you about Miss Helen’s remarkable electric automobile—commissioned at a time when horse and carriage was the norm.

Each season holds new events and entertainment. The Dark History Tour takes on some of the more grim stories the house has seen played out, along with tales of the supernatural supposedly witnessed there over the last century. Visiting near the winter holidays is highly recommended when the mansion is festooned with the same type of glittering traditional garlands and decorations that have hung in December for the last hundred years.   

Know Before You Go

The Campbell House is part of the collection of the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, which is next door. In the museum, you can find a doll's house version of the Campbell house, as well as a huge design folio used by the original interior designer in 1898—he included sketches along with sample pieces of cloth and wallpaper from around the world. These were used to restore the original look of the house exactly as it was when built.

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October 21, 2022

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