December 17, 2012 in City

Then and Now photos: Riverside Avenue

Fairmont Hotel filled critical housing need for downtown workers
The Robertson, Morgan and Bell buildings still stand on the 300 block of West Riverside Avenue. All date to Spokane’s boom era of the early 1900s. Glen Dow Academy of Hair Design is in the Kirtland Cutter/Karl Malmgren building developed by attorney Frederick C. Robertson. The 1909 Fairmont Hotel next door was a large single-room occupancy hotel. Called the Morgan Block after developer Daniel Morgan, the upper floors held more than 100 single bedrooms rented to single men and women who worked downtown. Neighbors shared bathrooms on each floor. SRO hotels filled a critical housing need, just as the young workers filled important jobs in construction, factories and offices during a period of furious growth. Many downtown buildings had retail or service businesses on the first floor and bedrooms above. The Fairmont was damaged by fire in 1941, and it remained vacant until after the war. In 1999, fire in the adjacent Mars Hotel again damaged the upper floors, and developer Ron Wells restored it again. Dania Furniture occupies the 1905 Bell Building next door, which in 1905 was the Wonder Department Store. –Jesse Tinsley

Photo illustration by Jesse Tinsley photo
In this digital composite, a photo circa 1930 shows the south side of the 300 block of West Riverside Avenue. From left in the current portion are the Robertson Building, home of the Glen Dow Academy of Hair Design, and the Morgan Block, better known as the Fairmont Hotel. In the historical portion, from left, are the Bell, Shaw and Borden, and Nichols buildings.

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