The Mearow Block, which spans the 200 block of W. Riverside and Sprague Ave., is named for Joseph A. Mearow, who was born in 1870 on a Minnesota farm to a family with 14 children. He settled in Spokane in 1903 to do real estate, then started Bell Furniture in 1912.
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Joseph A. Mearow was born in 1870 on a Minnesota farm to a family with 14 children. He settled in Spokane in 1903 to do real estate, then started Bell Furniture in 1912. As downtown workers moved to the burgeoning Spokane suburbs, Mearow sold them furniture. He bought the former Richmond Hotel at 228 W. Sprague and the Bickett building at 225 Riverside, connected the back-to-back structures and called it the Mearow Block. Mearow retired in 1939 and sold the business to Sidney and Leon Wurzburg. The brothers had moved to Spokane after their dry goods store in Marcus, Washington was icovered by Lake Roosevelt behind the new Grand Coulee dam in 1941. With brother-in-law John C. Clark, the Wurzburgs expanded Bell’s operations and moved the main showroom down a block, to 319 Riverside a few years later. Mearow died in 1954. The Mearow Block also gave a start to Sylvan Dreifus, who opened Sylvan Furniture there in 1945. In 1962, three men broke into Bell Furniture from a neighboring building. It was after midnight and they crashed through a fire access door and pounded on the door of the store’s vault. Failing to get through, they attacked an adjacent wall, digging through 22 inches of brick before making off with $1200-$1500 dollars, according to Leon Wurzburg. Neighbors in the Fairmont apartments heard the pounding, but couldn’t tell where it came from. The robbers were never caught. Bell Furniture went out of business in 1987. Sidney and Leon Wurzburg died in 1985 and 1987, respectively. The furniture chain Scan Design bought the building and opened the Dania store. Sylvan furniture moved from the Mearow Block to North Division in 2003, but closed in 2007. Sylvan Dreifus died in 2004. Sylvan’s Lewiston store is still operated by Dreifus’ daughter, Karen Shaul. The Mearow Block today is refurbished for ground-level commercial use and apartments above. The Bartlett, an all-ages live music venue with a wine and beer bar, is on the Sprague side.