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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Renovation poses mystery

The historic Alger-Bristol Hotel is currently undergoing restoration by developer Rob Brewster. 
 (INGRID BARRENTINE / The Spokesman-Review)
The historic Alger-Bristol Hotel is currently undergoing restoration by developer Rob Brewster. (INGRID BARRENTINE / The Spokesman-Review)

Members of the public are being asked if they can help solve a mystery surrounding windows and skylight in the historic Alger-Bristol Hotel building at the northwest corner of Sprague Avenue and Browne Street in downtown Spokane.

A preservation consultant believes the 1904 building originally had a two-story wall of windows on the east side and a long glass skylight across the central portion of the ceiling. The light arrangement was commonly used in working-class hotels with small single-occupancy rooms.

Fire damage dating back more than 50 years may have led to removal of the glass features, which, if they existed, were gone long before its current restoration, said historic preservation consultant Linda Yeomans.

In the effort to research the history of the building, Yeomans could not find any photographs to prove that the glass was part of the original hotel even though similar buildings of the genre had those features.

“We need to know if what we’ve done is correct,” she said.

Yeomans is seeking anyone who might have an early photo of the building that would answer the question.

She said she researched various archive resources in the community, including newspaper, museum and city repositories. She said she came up blank.

Developer Rob Brewster and his ConoverBond Development firm are in the middle of renovating the six historic buildings on the block bounded by Sprague, Bernard, Riverside and Browne. The developer is seeking federal tax credits to help offset historic redevelopment costs.

The federal government requires extensive documentation before granting the credits.

Yeomans said there was quite a bit of evidence to suggest the foyer beneath the skylight was enclosed, including dowel holes in the wall opening and plaster surfacing on the foyer walls.

The Alger-Bristol building is now occupied by Lutheran Community Services on the second and third floors, while much of the ground floor holds retail tenants.

“It’s nice to have these historical buildings downtown and to keep them,” said Gina Cook owner of Gina’s Design Corner in a corner shop on the ground floor.

The Alger-Bristol is part of Brewster’s long-range plan to create a mixed-use block known as Havermale Park with the renovation of existing historic structures and a new 30-story apartment building with 275 units. The block is part of the East Downtown Historic District.

The historic buildings are all listed individually on the local, state and national registers.

Brewster said that to build the apartment high-rise, city officials have told him his company would have to pay $200,000 to offset traffic impacts, and the development would be billed up to $40,000 a year by the city’s business improvement district.

He said both charges stand in the way of completing the high rise.

As a result, he said he may have to downsize the apartment structure, but he is going to continue with plans to restore the older buildings, including a former frame and axle shop that could be turned into a bar.

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