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Then and Now: Coeur d’Alene Hotel

A lot has been written about Johann Jacob Goetz. About how he immigrated to the United States from Frankfurt, Germany, at the age of 15. About how he moved west, met his business partner Harry Baer in Wyoming and picked up a nickname: “Dutch Jake.” About his saloons and restaurants for railroad crews and miners, where he never let a man go hungry, even if the man couldn’t pay. About how he invited every miner to his wedding and almost 700 showed up for free beer.

Besides running saloons, Jake had staked Phil O’Rourke and Noah Kellogg, the miners credited with finding the veins of silver-rich galena ore that became the Bunker Hill mine. Jake was a rich man, almost overnight.

Jake and Harry came to Spokane with their mining profits and built the four-story brick Frankfurt Block at the corner of Howard Street and Main Avenue in 1889. Just a few weeks after opening, the new building was swept away by the great fire in August of that year. With no insurance, they started over in a tent, then a one-story building, and later a two-story building, which they called the New Frankfurt.

But Jake had bigger ideas. He let the bank foreclose on his building and bought the four-story Loewenberg Building, built in 1890 at the corner of Howard Street and Trent Avenue. He renamed it the Coeur d’Alene Theater, where a working man could get a drink, a meal, a cigar, a haircut, a poker game, a shoeshine and a bed, if not a room.

In 1910, Goetz and Baer expanded the building to six stories, changing the name to the Coeur d’Alene Hotel. On the roof, Jake built a mock steamship with a smokestack, a ship’s wheel, lifeboats hanging by davits and cannons.

The hotel was a legendary 24-hour emporium of entertainment, with 144 employees in 1900. In the basement, Jake provided blankets for the down and out to sleep out of the cold.

“Old Jake was the biggest-hearted Dutchman that ever lived,” employee Martin Kalez said, though Goetz was actually German. “And as honest as the day is long.” Goetz died in 1927.


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