Courtesy of the Northwest Room, Spokane Public Library
The Auditorium Theater highlighted Spokane as the outpost of culture on the western plains. The building’s owners, John Browne and Anthony Cannon, arrived in the dusty village of Spokane Falls in 1878 to look for business opportunities, according to “Spokane, Our Early History” by Suzanne and Tony Bamonte. The population was 54. Browne and Cannon quickly bought all the land they could. The pair opened offices, started banks and were some of Spokane’s earliest millionaires. Their crown jewel would be the Auditorium building, where the opera house would be the center of civic life. Designed by Herman Preusse and finished in 1890, it rivaled the luxurious show houses in Chicago. Browne’s fortune was hard hit in the panic of 1893 and Cannon went bankrupt and watched as banks foreclosed on his land holdings. In 1917, Bing Crosby watched his idol, Al Jolson, perform at the Auditorium building, which was demolished in 1934.