When the office block was built on the southwest corner of Lincoln Street
and Riverside Avenue in 1900, it was named the Empire State Building in honor of New Yorker Charles Sweeney, a mining millionaire who was a partner in the building. The same name would grace New York City’s 102-story skyscraper, but not until 30 years later. Spokane’s six-story building – likely the first steel-framed brick structure in town – was designed by architect John K. Dow, who also designed the Lincoln County Courthouse, the Masonic Temple and the August Paulsen Building. Dow arrived in Spokane at age 27 in 1889, the year of the city’s great fire. His architectural firm, with partner Loren L. Rand, dove into the reconstruction of the city’s core. The building was renamed the Great Western Building in 1961. It keeps that name, although Great Western Savings & Loan – acquired as Great Western Bank by Washington Mutual in 1997 – moved out. Dow died in 1961,
a year short of his 100th birthday.
– Jesse Tinsley