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Then and Now

Doerr Mitchell and Company

Doerr-Mitchell and Company, selling electrical and radio supplies, opened in Spokane in 1897. Although it moved from the Howard St. location early on, business grew rapidly.


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Image One Photo Archive The Spokesman-Review Image Two Jesse Tinsley The Spokesman-Review

Doerr-Mitchell and Company, selling electrical and radio supplies, opened in Spokane in 1897. Although it moved from the Howard St. location early on, business grew rapidly. D-M purchasing manager William “Billy” Irish was a radio hobbyist and took over a neighbor’s homebuilt transmitter in the late 1910s, long before the federal government granted licenses, and Irish would place a Victrola or a player piano near a simple microphone. Irish’s “pirate” station, KFZ, became official in March of 1922, a first in Spokane. From his home on W. 9th Ave., he would broadcast live “concerts” which the Spokane Chronicle said was “daily entertainment for radio fans…as far as Whitefish, Montana and Walla Walla.” Doerr-Mitchell eventually became Columbia Electric and Manufacturing. Their recessed fluorescent fixtures became the standard for commercial lighting in the 1950s. In 2002, Columbia became part of Hubbell Lighting, based in South Carolina, and closed it’s Spokane plant in 2009. The Columbia Building, designed by the firm of Herman Preusse and Julius Zittel, was built on this site by former U.S. Senator George Turner in 1907.


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