Havermale Island in downtown Spokane had been a mostly industrial area since white settlers arrived in the 1870s. Mills, laundries, warehouses and factories lined the sole street, Havermale Avenue, convenient to the railroad lines that crossed the island or were on nearby Trent Avenue.
By the 1950s, fewer passengers were using trains and freight was arriving on trucks as well as by rail. Manufacturing was moving to outlying areas, usually to east Spokane. So when the Carman Manufacturing furniture factory closed on Havermale Avenue, Dr. Charles M. Anderson, a prominent physician with offices in the Paulsen Building, and Herman E. Swanson, a scientist who worked for the Forest Service, partnered to build a motel on the site in 1959.
The motel, within walking distance of the Great Northern train depot, cost $350,000 to build. Myrtle Woldson owned the land. She was the daughter of Martin Woldson, an early railroad builder who had invested heavily in real estate.
The two-story Travelodge, with 58 guest rooms plus a manager’s quarters, was perched on the rocky banks of the river so that the rooms had views of the Spokane River’s north channel. Across the river were the Centennial and Spokane flour mills and the Spokane Coliseum. Upper-floor rooms had balconies.
The rooms had TV and air conditioning, but it wasn’t fancy. The motel had no restaurant and the closest one was at the Coeur d’Alene Hotel at Trent Avenue and Howard Street. There was a gas station next door that shared the parking lot. Architectural historian Robert Hyslop said the building was neat and attractive but lacked any greenery around it except for what grew in the cracks of the rocky banks.
As early as 1969, the planners of Expo ’74 were looking at ways to purchase and remove the motel. The city was preparing to use the right of eminent domain to take the site if negotiations with the owners failed. Organizers were applying for every state and federal grant possible to find the money to pay for the property.
The owners finally settled for $925,000, split between landowner Woldson and the motel partners. The motel was bulldozed in early 1973 to clear the way for the Expo’s U.S. Pavilion.
– Jesse Tinsley
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