William H. Kroll was already a successful lumberman in Michigan – and well into his 60s – when he came west in 1911 and stopped in St. Maries. Within three years he had built the St. Maries Lumber Co, which became one of the largest mills in the region.
Kroll continued to invest in timberlands throughout the northwest. He sold most of his interests in the mill in 1923 for $1.8 million.
In 1921, he bought the Merriam Block on First Avenue, extending between Wall and Howard streets. He changed the name to the Kroll Building. The first floor was used for retail space, including Kroll’s Market with multiple vendors. Upstairs were spaces where clubs, like the Knights of Columbus and the University Club, had met for years.
Kroll spent $30,000 to remodel the University Club quarters into the new Spokane Women’s Club, the first health club, pool and gathering place for women in Spokane.
Kroll served on bank boards and ran apple farms in the Spokane Valley. He died in 1928 at age 82, remembered for his philanthropy and loyalty to associates and employees. His adult children from a previous marriage fought bitterly with his widow, Anna Kroll, over the million-dollar estate. Anna died in 1963. The Kroll Building was razed in 1980 to make way for a new bank building.
1965: Built in 1916 as the Merriam Block between Wall and Howard streets, the block-long building was bought and renamed by William Kroll in 1921.
Present day: On the south side of First Avenue between Wall and Howard streets now stands a bank building, with a branch and operations of Wells Fargo.
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