Empire Hotel

Joao Ignacio was born in the Azores in the late 1830s and headed to America in his teens. Joao, who Anglicized his name to John Enos but was also known as “Portuguese Joe”, headed to California to look for gold, then to British Columbia for the same reason, but eventually settled in Lincoln County, Washington, amassing a farm and cattle ranch of more than 3000 acres. When he retiredin 1910, he traded his land for a new Spokane business, the Empire Hotel at Riverside and Division.

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

Joao Ignacio was born in the Azores in the late 1830s and headed to America in his teens. Joao, who Anglicized his name to John Enos but was also known as “Portuguese Joe”, headed to California to look for gold, then to British Columbia for the same reason, but eventually settled in Lincoln County, Washington, amassing a farm and cattle ranch of more than 3000 acres. When he retiredin 1910, he traded his land for a new Spokane business, the Empire Hotel at Riverside and Division. He had married in 1909 as his health declined, and he moved back to the Azores and died there in 1911. He left most of his fortune, estimated at $240,000, to his new wife, Mary. He included generous bequests to churches and the YMCA, but only $5 to each of his brothers. The shunned siblings sued the estate, saying the new wife turned him against them. An Indian woman, Nempitkin Sysie, who was also called Susan Enos, said he married her as a teen in an Indian village around 1870. The court rebuffed both contests. After Enos’ death, Fred and Charles Lowery took over and ran it for 30 years. Under a familiar lighted rooftop sign, the 177 rooms held a mix of permanent and transient residents. Charles died in 1936 and his wife in 1941 and their half-ownership divided between several relatives who demanded their money out of the business, so Fred Lowery sold it in 1943. The building passed through several hands and eventually closed as a hotel in 1952. Benjamin Endelman of Spokane Metals Co., an adjacent business, owned it and used it for storage when it suffered a catastrophic fire in 1970. With the walls in danger of collapsing, it was demolished and the land has been empty since then.


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