The building that most Spokane residents call “the Joel building” began in 1899 as a brick warehouse housing a wholesale grocery called the Boothe-Powell Co.
Famed architect Kirtland Cutter’s firm, Cutter and Malgrem, designed the original building, according to a Historic Property Inventory Report prepared for the city in 2002.
Seattle Brewing took over the building in 1906. Then, from 1910 to about 1918, it was occupied by the Beardmore Transfer Line, according to “Spokane Building Blocks,” by Robert B. Hyslop. The building’s main attraction was its proximity to the railroad lines.
The Arnold Evans Co. plumbing and heating firm took over in 1918. Around the early 1920s, much of the building was converted to a factory and warehouse for the Elektro-Kold Corp., which made some of the first electric refrigerators in the country. It remained the Elektro-Kold building until sometime in the 1950s.
Joel Inc. bought the building in 1967 and extensively remodeled it into Joel, a home furnishings and specialty shop. The original Joel had been on Sprague Avenue since 1950.
“We want to keep the feeling of early-day Spokane represented by the old red brick,” owner Joel Ferris said in 1967, “but add some dramatic eye appeal.”
It remained the Joel building until 2005, when the store closed. Last year, it became the home of Churchill’s, a high-end steakhouse. It also houses Dorian photography, a portrait studio, which took over the northern portion of the building around 1971. Other portions of the building were being remodeled as a condo project called the Lofts at Joel.
It was apparently not one of Cutter’s showcase works. It is not listed as one of Cutter’s buildings in Henry C. Matthews’ 1998 biography “Kirtland Cutter: Architect in the Land of Promise.” Hyslop refers to the original building as “a very ordinary brick warehouse of the period.”