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Then and Now: Pfister Bowling and Billiards

From 1905 to about 1912, Henry L. Haupt ran one of Spokane’s most popular entertainment venues, The Pfister Bowling and Billiards, a place where a man could get a cigar, a cold beer and a game of pool. Haupt organized statewide and regional bowling tournaments, which led to the founding of the Spokane-based Western Bowling Congress. It was a man’s game, but Haupt advertised almost every day in the newspaper that ladies were welcome. The Pfister produced champion bowling teams and with 16 tables, it was the largest billiard room in Spokane. Despite its popularity, Haupt’s other schemes caused The Pfister to struggle. On the side, Haupt ran Montana Mining, Loan and Investment Co., a penny-stock company that promised a dividend only if a winning stock certificate number came up in a monthly drawing. He was convicted of running a de facto lottery in 1905 and sentenced to pay a fine and serve six months in prison in Montana. In 1906 he accused a fellow bowler and competitor, Grover Ballard, who was also manager of the Spokane Amateur Athletic club alleys, of stealing a shirt and a pair of shoes. The executive committee of the City Bowling League voted unanimously to dismiss the charges. There was also a local boycott of The Pfister, brought on by Haupt’s refusal to let Ballard and his team bowl. Eventually the city of Spokane had to mediate. The Pfister building, which spanned from Sprague to First avenues, was torn down in 1913 to build the Davenport Hotel.


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