Francis Cook, publisher of the Tacoma Herald newspaper, was lured to Spokane in 1879 by the offer of free land from city father James N. Glover. He was offered the corner of Riverside Avenue and Howard Street if he opened a newspaper to serve the growing town.
Cook began publishing The Spokan Times. But the massive 1889 fire destroyed Cook’s two-story wood-frame building, and in its place rose the Rookery, a block of four buildings that housed banks, lawyers, dry goods and many other business activities in the heart of the city.
On the corner was Spokane National Bank, six stories with a round corner tower. Wrapped around the bank was the White House Building that fronted both Riverside and Howard. East of there was the Riverside Building, and south on Howard was the Harrington Building.
Building historian Robert Hyslop remembers the buildings had a system of light wells and adjoining corridors that left odd and irregular rooms in places and made the name Rookery an appropriate moniker. Hyslop remembers dimly lit hallways: “The whole place had a musty, dusty smell.”
After more than 40 years of use, the block was demolished in 1933 and replaced with a three-story art deco structure called the “new” Rookery, which was torn down in 2006.
– Jesse Tinsley
1890s: The Rookery Block, which was built on the southeast corner of Riverside and Howard, was actually four buildings: from left, the Riverside Building, the White House Building, the Spokane National Bank and the Harrington Building. The far right building facing Howard is the Hazel Block.
Present day: The southeast corner of Riverside and Howard was a major business hub until the commercial buildings were torn down in 2005.