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Then and Now

The Cowen Building


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A seafaring Swedish immigrant named Carl Fogelquist arrived in 1908 and put his name on quality men’s fashion in Spokane.

He had served in the Swedish merchant marine before coming to the United States in 1888. He started a store in Iowa then moved to the Northwest.

Selling clothes was simpler in the early days. Pants, suits and hats were just piled on tables. Over the years, clothing and displays at Fogelquist’s became more sophisticated and the merchandise more upscale. Fogelquist told the newspaper that half-belted jackets and Tyrolean hats were the popular choices for 1936.

Fogelquist’s sons Albin and Falke were running the business when the store moved to its last location, the 1890 Idaho Block on the southeast corner of Sprague and Wall, in 1948. Building owners David Cowen, a dentist, and Martin Woldson had just remodeled the modest structure into the Cowen Building.

Without heirs who wanted to take over, Fogelquist’s closed in 1972. The newspaper called it the oldest single-ownership men’s store in the city. The biggest change over the store’s 64 years, Albin and Falke told the newspaper, was that men became more fashion conscious. At the store’s beginning, it would take several years for fashions from New York and Boston to reach the sidewalks of Spokane.

Fogelquist died in 1959 at age 91. The Cowen Building, and the rest of the block, was torn down in 1979 to make way for the parking garage for the SeaFirst building, now the Bank of America Financial Center.


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