William M. Ridpath, born in 1845 in Putnam County, Ind., volunteered for service during the Civil War, serving two hitches before mustering out and attending college.
Col. Ridpath taught school and studied law until passing the bar in 1872. He served in the Indiana legislature and was later appointed by President Chester A. Arthur as an Indian agent to various tribes in the west before moving to Spokane in 1888.
In Spokane, he practiced law and was appointed prosecutor in the pre- and post-statehood era. He invested in mining and real estate.
His investment in the Le Roi mine in Rossland, B.C., paid off handsomely, and he used his profits to open the five-story Ridpath Hotel on West Sprague Avenue in 1900.
Ridpath died in 1914, but his descendants continued to operate the hotel, which was gutted by fire in 1950. It was rebuilt in 1952 as a 12-story modern tower. The remaining family members sold the hotel in 1988 for $9 million to a partnership that included West Coast Hotels. The hotel closed in August 2008, and its future is in limbo as complex ownership issues are sorted out.
– Jesse Tinsley
April 30, 1954: The new Ridpath tower, in the middle of the block at right, was built in 1952 after a catastrophic fire destroyed the five-story hotel in 1950. To the east of the hotel stood the Blalock building, which was acquired by the Ridpath owners and reduced to one story in 1972, then redesigned to blend into the modern hotel’s look. The Blalock was home to the Halliday Hotel in the early 20th century.
Present day: Looking east on West Sprague Avenue, the now-vacant Ridpath Hotel is on the right while most of the frontage on the left is now parking.