Clayton pub reflects simpler times, a sense of place

By: 
RaeLynn Ricarte
Editor

Some say the Brickyard Tavern is the oldest in Washington, but owners Jack Wahl and Cheryl Johnson aren’t sure that rumor is true. However, they do say it seems like the place has been in Clayton forever.

The building at 4484 Railroad Avenue is about 100 years old and was the first stop between Spokane and the Canadian border during Prohibition. There are reports that people from Spokane lined the street outside the Brickyard to buy alcohol during the 1920s and were limited to three drinks apiece.

The current location is not the original site for the tavern; it was moved two blocks east to be more convenient to workers at the Washington Brick, Lime and Sewer Pipe Company that opened its doors after a similar business was lost to a catastrophic fire in 1908.

The Brickyard, which Wahl says the tavern is named after, was known far and wide for its high-quality products that included decorative terracotta panels crafted by artisans, some of whom had immigrated from Italy for the job.

Gone is the plant and, these days, most Clayton residents commute to Spokane (27 miles) or Deer Park (4.5 miles) for employment. The unincorporated community is now a much quieter place to live, boasting a population of 445, many of whom are appreciative of the social connection offered at the pub.

“We get all of the news because we are halfway from Spokane to somewhere north,” says Johnson.

Arriving at the Brickyard is like stepping back in time — there is even a hitching post for horses across the street. The historic structure is weathered on the outside and the inside features tables and chairs that have seen a few decades.

Notable warmth envelopes you from the cheery wood stove that Wahl says is a big draw in the winter. There are antique cans and bottles everywhere, including a bottle of beer smuggled in from Cuba during a time when commerce with the communist nation was illegal.

Read the full story in the March 31, 2021 edition of the Deer Park Tribune.

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