The Salvation Army was founded in 1865 and came to Spokane in 1891. It moved around, renting different buildings, until purchasing 245 W. Main Ave. in 1919 for $40,000.
The Salvation Army building and the Red Shield Hotel were erected in 1921. The “hotel” provided housing for single men at a nominal fee for almost 60 years. It had 53 rooms available for working and indigent men. The motto promised “soup, soap and salvation” to all.
The Salvation Army building was a social service center dedicated to feeding, clothing and providing shelter and salvation.
The Salvation Army is one of the city’s longest-running community aid organizations. While the administration offices and services moved to 222 E. Indiana Ave. in 1972, the Red Shield Hotel remained and severed ties with the Salvation Army in 1973.
As a successful “working man’s club or hotel,” it became co-ed to meet the demand for cheap housing. Over time it became a run-down apartment building, and a woman, Martha Hall, was murdered there in 1977. Hall was attacked in her room by two men who stole her hot plate and radio before leaving the crime scene.
The Red Shield hotel no longer exists, but the Salvation Army continues to serve Spokane’s poor with housing, food and other services. The building on Main Avenue now houses Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. Most of the windows were replaced for safety reasons, but the architecture of the exterior of the building has been preserved, including the marquee.