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Spokane

Then & Now: First and Howard in 1898

Mon., Oct. 1, 2012

Radio store gave way to Columbia Building

Doerr-Mitchell and Co., selling electrical and radio supplies, opened in Spokane in 1897. Purchasing manager William “Billy” Irish was a radio hobbyist who took over a neighbor’s home-built transmitter in the late 1910s. Irish’s “pirate” station, KFZ, became official in March 1922, a first in Spokane. From his home on West Ninth Avenue, he would broadcast live “concerts,” which the Spokane Chronicle said was “daily entertainment for radio fans … as far as Whitefish, Montana and Walla Walla.” Doerr-Mitchell eventually became Columbia Electric and Manufacturing. In 2002, Columbia became part of Hubbell Lighting and closed its Spokane plant in 2009. The Columbia Building, designed by the firm of Herman Preusse and Julius Zittel, was built on this site by former U.S. Sen. George Turner in 1907. – Jesse Tinsley


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