October 17, 2011 in City

Photos Then & Now: Public library

Today’s incarnation stands in place of old Sears

March 3, 1930: Sears, Roebuck & Co.’s store, less than a week old, is open at 906 W. Main Ave. in Spokane. Sears invested $750,000 in the building site and stock. The building was three stories with a full basement and was equipped with the latest combined heating-and-ventilating system.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

The first libraries in Spokane, opening in 1880 and 1883, required paid memberships. Both failed. An effort in 1891 struggled, too, and the city took over the library and housed it in City Hall. In 1904 philanthropist Andrew Carnegie paid for a dedicated library building, which was used through the Depression and two world wars. By the early 1960s, Sears, Roebuck & Co., which had opened a store at Main and Lincoln in 1930, had sold its building to the city. Dubbed the Comstock building, it became the home of the Spokane Public Library in 1964 and remained so for almost 30 years. After a 1990 library bond vote, the Comstock building came down in 1992, and the new library opened in 1994.

–Jesse Tinsley

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