The Opportunity Township hall, a Spanish colonial-style building at 12114 E. Sprague, turns 100 years old this year and its current occupant, the Spokane Valley Heritage Museum, will celebrate the centennial on Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. with a short program and the burial of a time capsule.
Until the 1960s, the waterfront in Coeur d’Alene served as a steamboat landing, a lumber mill, a sea plane dock, a train yard, an area of industrial warehouses and a log storage area. In the 1960s, the transformation to a tourist destination began in earnest.
James “Cashup” Davis, born in England in 1815, came to America 1840 to seek his fortune. His early success in the hospitality business led him to dream of a hotel perched atop Steptoe Butte, a rocky hill in the middle of the Palouse.
Spokane’s downtown had everything. From its founding in the 1870s to the end of its industrial boom in 1910, people came downtown by streetcar, then buses, for groceries, hardware, clothing, doctor appointments and restaurants.
The 1955 photo shows a city in transition. By some measures, the post-WWII economy was still slowing following the vigorous expansion of early Spokane, circa 1890 to 1910. Although Spokane was the economic and industrial center of the region, its proud skyline, with the Paulsen Medical and Dental Building and the Old National Bank building seemed sculpted in another era. Trains still trundled in and out of the area around Spokane Falls, but transportation was changing as the automobile offered a new freedom. In just a few years, the idea for a world’s fair to revitalize downtown would take hold and the rails and train depots of old Spokane were swept away for Expo ‘74. The shoreline of the Spokane River was recontoured. Many structures from Expo are still in use, like the Washington State Pavilion, a gleaming modern theater which would become the INB Performing Arts Center.
In the days before refrigerators, beer had to be made locally, often in the back of a saloon where it was sold. One of the first big breweries in Spokane was the New York Brewery, which opened in 1886 on the northwest corner of Washington and Front St., now called Spokane Falls Blvd.
The Rex Theater, decorated with an elaborate rococo plaster facade, opened at 326 W. Riverside around 1908 as the Empire Theater offering light opera, vaudeville shows and first-run silent movies in the midst of Spokane’s bustling boom years.
The Hall of Doges was designed to emulate the elegance of Doge’s palace in Venice, Italy. Diners were transported into the world of Renaissance art and gilded scroll work. Developer Walt Worthy preserved the hall by crating it whole and removing it during the hotel’s refitting, then replacing it in 2001. Today it is a dining and meeting area outside the Grand Pennington ballroom.
This photo, by photographer Charles Libby, is looking southwest from the Spokane County courthouse tower at the Monroe Street Bridge, made of steel until 1909. Photo is circa 1903, according to “Spokane, Our Early History” by Suzanne and Tony Bamonte.
Sheriff Christopher C. Dempsey, second from left, is on the telephone in the Spokane County courthouse in a 1897 photo. Dempsey may have been preparing for the execution of Gin Pong, who was convicted of a gruesome hatchet murder. The Spokesman-Review said Pong was “a large Chinaman whom other Chinamen all despise and fear.” It would be the second of four official hangings in Spokane County history, not counting informal “necktie parties”. Curiosity brought some four thousand people, including children and many women “of refined appearance”, to walk through the jail, peering into Pong’s cell before his execution. The last hanging in Spokane was in 1917, after which the state mandated that any capital punishment would be carried out at the state prison in Walla Walla.
The Lilac Bloomsday Run turns 35 years old this year, a long way from a modest start. Encouraged by the mayor and and bolstered by sponsors and service organizations, founder Don Kardong, an Olympic marathon runner, led off the first race May 1, 1977.