Spokane: The Birthplace of Father's Day

Spokane: The Birthplace of Father's Day

Did you know Father’s Day was actually founded right here in Spokane? Sonora Smart Dodd, a Spokane native, worked to create the holiday to honor her single father. The Dodd home can be viewed in Spokane, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Learn more about this historic holiday below.

The History

Sonora Smart Dodd

During a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909, Sonora Smart Dodd was inspired to create a similar day that recognized fathers.

Sonora, often referred to as the “Mother of Father’s Day,” was 16 years old when her mother died, leaving her father William Jackson Smart to raise Sonora and her five younger brothers on a remote farm in Eastern Washington.

With the assistance of Reverend Dr. Conrad Bluhm, Sonora took the idea for Father’s Day to the Spokane YMCA. The Spokane YMCA, along with the Ministerial Alliance, endorsed Dodd’s idea and helped spread the word by celebrating the first Father’s Day in 1910. Sonora suggested her father’s birthday, June 5, be established as the day to honor all fathers. However, the pastors wanted more time to prepare, so June 19, 1910 was designated as the first Father’s Day and sermons honoring fathers were presented throughout the city.

Father’s Day didn’t gain national prominence, however, until years later. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge recognized Father’s Day and urged the states to do so as well. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation calling for the third Sunday in June to be recognized as Father’s Day. President Richard M. Nixon signed a proclamation in 1972, permanently observing Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June.

The Dodd Home

Built in 1913 for Sonora Smart Dodd and her husband, John Bruce Dodd, the Craftsman-style home was the Dodd’s family residence until 1950. The home is currently a private residence, but can be viewed from Arthur St.

Stop by the house and then head to the nearby South Perry District for food, craft beer, shopping and more!


Looking for things to do with Dad?

Enjoy a Local Brew

Spokane's brewery culture is blowing up. New breweries are popping up all over the city—each with their own unique style and recipes.Find out more here. 

Play Outside

Is your dad an avid hiker, biker or rock climber? Spokane has outdoor recreation options that are fun for the whole family. Find out where to go, what to do and where to get gear by clicking here.

See a Show

From improv comedy to Broadway shows, rock stars to local acts—on any given day you can find amazing live entertainment in Spokane. Treat dad to a night of entertainment! Click here to find a show.