Clio Logo

This building houses three addresses: 406, 408, and 410. It was erected in 1912 after a fire destroyed two wood frame business buildings in July of that year. Similar to the building on the corner, this one has a single exterior façade with interior walls that divide it into three business spaces. 408 1st is the smallest space with 406 wrapping around behind it. The upper façade of the building is original, but the lower storefront of each space has been altered.

Minnick's jewelry store at 408 1st, 1916 map

image of map showing buildings

Eyeglasses case from Selner Optometrist and Jeweler

case for eyeglasses

Selners advertisement, 1924


Selner advertising on Moose Rodeo poster 1930

poster, advertisements,

Pete Smith with customers, 1955

man and two women at jewelry counter

Smith Jewelers, 1958

customers shown jewelry at counter

Smith Jeweler on left, next to Cheney Drug Store, and Cheney Free Press, about 1961

buildings, cars

Advertisement during remodeling May 11, 1962

advertisement for Smith Jewelers and Mosman's clothing store

Remodeled Smith Jewelers under street awning, interior 1962

display windows, interior view of store

Interior of Smith Jewelers seen through new windows under the street awning, 1962

display windows, interior view of store

Smith Jewelers advertisement, 1965

advertisement for Smith Jewelers

Interior of Smith Jewelers, about 1967

interior of store, clocks, counters,

Peter J. Smith, about 1967

portrait of Peter J. Smith

Smith Jewelers ad 1975

advertisement, illustration of man at jewelry counter

Smith Jewelers sack 1970s

paper sack

Christmas advertisement 1982

advertisement for Smith Jewelers

Jeff and Pete Smith, 1983

portrait of men behind jewelry counter

408 1st Street, 2022


What was here before? While the overall site formerly had two wood-frame buildings, 408 sits mostly on the gap between them.

The first tenant of the new building space was James W. Minnick, Jeweler and Watch Repair. Mr. Minnick had come to Cheney in 1883, first working as a Blacksmith. In 1887, he learned the jewelry and watch repair trade from the aptly named L.B. Jewel and went into business for himself in 1899. Minnick took an optics course in 1904, adding optometry to his line of services and altering his business name to Minnick Jewelry & Optometry. His business had operated in several locations before taking up residence at 408 1st Street. Minnick also served the community as city clerk and councilman, school district clerk, and deputy assessor. He was a member of the Odd Fellows Lodge #21 and served as its treasurer. James Minnick sold the business to Frank E. Selner in 1920.

The Cheney Free Press reported in October 1920 that Mr. F.E. Selner of Mansfield, Washington had arrived in Cheney to take possession of the jewelry and optometry store formerly known as Minnick's. Frank and Alwilda Selner had a daughter, Nana and two sons, Warren and Harold. Harold lost his life in 1943 when the naval training plane he was flying crashed at Walla Walla.

Businessman Bill Bernard told a story to the Free Press about a pioneer clock he owned and a bet:

The intricate mechanism of the clock won a $5 bet for Bernard several years ago. The clock keeps track of the day of the week and the date. However, Frank Selner bet $5 that it would skip February 29 on leap year. But when the time came, the clock came through. This would indicate that one part of the mechanism is used only once every four years.

In 1947, Selner hired Peter J. Smith of Seattle. Smith had recently completed a course on clock and watch repair.

When Frank Selner retired at the end of 1952, he reflected on his 32 years in Cheney in an interview in the Free Press:

Cheney's population [1920] was then about 1,100. Now I believe it's approaching 3,000. The growth of the town has not been spectacular, but it has been steady and substantial. Eastern Washington College of Education [EWU] was then known as the State Normal School and College Avenue was Normal Avenue. The college too has had a substantial growth. It was shortly after we came here, as I remember, that Sutton hall, the men's dorm, was completed, and since then the school campus has been greatly changed and many buildings erected.
The new elementary school building [Martin Hall], Hargreaves library, New Hall [Louise Anderson], Woodward athletic field, and Hudson hall [where the campus mall is today] are some of the additions I recall. 
One of the interesting landmarks that still remained when we came here was the old bandstand that stood where the Cheney Department store is now [demolished in 1980 for a parking lot on the south side of the street]. They tell me that for many years weekly concerts were given by the Cheney community band and that these concerts always drew big crowds.
When we came here the electric trains between Cheney and Spokane were still running, but the auto soon drove the trolley cars out of business. Some of the remains of the track may still be seen.
In those days, all Cheney used to go out to Fish Lake in the hot summer evenings. The lake was a favorite resort for games and swimming. It was a real community center. The lake was also, believe it or not, the source of Cheney's ice supply.
Many new buildings have been added to the business section since 1920 and the downtown section has been modernized, and of course, there have been many changes. The post office, for instance, was located in the building now occupied by Bair's grocery [now Owl Pharmacy parking lot].
The high school building [Schoolhouse Lofts], Philena apartments, the Pomeroy block, Pix theater [parking lot next to old Bank of America], and bank building have been built since we came here. And then there are the many beautiful residences that have been added during the last few years.

The jewelry store was renamed Smith Jewelers in January 1953. Pete Smith had purchased the business from Frank Selner in September of 1951. He had studied the business with Selner and had also received a diploma as a gem specialist from the Gemological Institute of America in 1952.

Pete Smith was active in the civic affairs of the community, including the Chamber of Commerce, American Legion, and as a member of the city council. In 1953, local man, Lloyd Ham was employed by Smith as a watch repairman. 

In 1955, Smith offered each Cheney High girl graduate a sterling silver teaspoon in the pattern of her choice. The graduate was invited to come to the store to choose her pattern.

The girl graduate finds the art of table decoration one of her favorite homemaking projects and usually plans her whole table setting scheme around her choice of flatware.

This store graduation gift was a tradition that Smith Jewelers carried on for many years.

In the spring of 1962 Smith Jewelers remodeled the front of his business with larger display windows under the new block-long awning that was completed in July.

Pete and Frances Smith retired in 1976, turning the business over to son, Jeff who carried on until 1989.

Specialty Management, a rental property management firm then moved in and still occupies the space in 2022.

  • Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps 1884, 1888, 1890, 1891, 1897, 1905, 1908, 1916, 1939.
  • Cheney Historical Preservation Commission Reports 
  • Southwest Spokane County Historical Society image collection
  • Eastern Washington University Special Collections images
  • Cheney Free Press, various dates
  • Cheney phone books 1955 - 2010
Image Sources(Click to expand)

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map Company

The Southwest Spokane County Historical Society collection, 2143.2-2

The Southwest Spokane County Historical Society collection

The Southwest Spokane County Historical Society, 2007.9.1

Cheney High School Pine Cone yearbook, 1955

Cheney High School Pine Cone yearbook, 1958

EWU Archives & Special Collections, SPC 002-0548_31-E-4

Cheney Free Press, 11 May 1962

EWU Archives & Special Collections, SPC 002-0548_51-G-3

EWU Archives & Special Collections, SPC 002-0548_51-F-1

Cheney Free Press, 25 June 1965

EWU Archives & Special Collections; SPC 002-0548_51-G-3

EWU Archives & Special Collections, SPC 002-0548_131-B-1

Cheney Free Press 1975

The Southwest Spokane County Historical Society collection, 2225.1

Cheney Free Press, 2 December 1982

Cheney Free Press, 7 July 1983

Bing maps street view, 2022