President William Howard Taft loved good food, and there was no shortage of it during his visit to Spokane in 1909, which coincided with the National Apple Show. According to the official program, the presidential train rolled into Spokane at 7 a.m. and the chief executive, who weighed about 300 pounds, breakfasted at Davenport’s Restaurant before touring Spokane by automobile and delivering a speech. He returned to Davenport’s for a sumptuous luncheon in the Hall of Doges, where every item was made with the “Apple as the King of Fruits.” He took a car and the trolley to Coeur d’Alene for another speech at 4 p.m. Then it was off to the Bozanta Tavern, now the Hayden Lake Country Club, for a feast of wild game that included bass from the lake, venison and bear. Restaurateur Louis Davenport’s luxury hotel was built in 1912 and has hosted many celebrity visitors, including Presidents Teddy Roosevelt, Warren Harding, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Taft served only one term, losing to Woodrow Wilson, but he was later appointed chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the only man to hold both offices.
– Jesse Tinsley
People gather around Davenport’s Restaurant, hoping for a glimpse of the visiting celebrity during President William Howard Taft’s visit to Spokane on Sept. 28, 1909. The Davenport Hotel was not yet built. Picture looks west on Sprague.
The Davenport Hotel complex features a mission-style exterior on the southwest corner of Sprague and Post that is a modern homage to the two-story Davenport’s Restaurant, which Louis Davenport founded before the turn of the last century. The rebuilt corner features the hotel’s porte cochere on the ground floor and the rebuilt Hall of Doges on the second floor.
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