Then and Now

Great Western Building

The Spokane Empire State Building, later known as the Great Western Building was built in 1900, is located at the corner of Riverside and Lincoln. It was named after a New Yorker named Charles Sweeney. It was advertised as Spokane’s first fireproof building. The National Register of Historic Places added this building to it’s list of protected historical properties in the 1980’s.


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

In 1900, when the office block was built on the southwest corner of Lincoln St. and Riverside Ave. in Spokane, it was called the Empire State Building, a moniker that would be put on New York’s iconic skyscraper 30 years later. But the modest six-story building is a landmark nonetheless because it is an example of architect John K. Dow’s design portfolio, which also includes Lincoln County Courthouse, the Masonic Temple and the August Paulsen Building. Dow, at 27 years old, arrived in Spokane in 1889, the year of the city’s great fire. Dow’s new architectural firm, with partner Loren L. Rand, dove headlong into the massive reconstruction of the city’s core, as well as outlying projects in Cheney, Colfax and Pullman. Although Dow’s architectural credentials are unknown, the Empire State is probably the first steel-framed brick structure in Spokane. Historian Carolyn Hage Nunemaker remembers riding the open cage-style elevators with exposed cables and counterweights. Renamed the Great Western Building in 1961, the name remains though Great Western Savings and Loan is no longer there. Dow died in 1961, a year short of his 100th birthday.


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