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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Then and Now: Golden Gate building

The Golden Gate building, erected in 1892 and named by two Stebbins brothers from Oakland, California, on the northeast corner of Riverside Avenue and Lincoln Street, was a bustling retail business center since it opened. Along with the five-story Norfolk Building just to the east and a three-story rooming house addition to the north, along Lincoln Avenue, it was home to professional offices, residential rooms and street-level retail.

The longest tenants of the buildings included Bergman Luggage, a Seattle-based retailer founded in 1927; Singer Sewing Machine Company, starting in the early 1930s; and the Aster candy store and soda fountain, starting around 1915. With few changes, these three remained until the Golden Gate and the Norfolk were demolished in 1963 to make way for the Lincoln Savings Building.

Lincoln Savings and Loan started in the 1920s, founded by some of Spokane’s most prominent citizens. Through a merger it became Lincoln First Federal Savings, which was the name when it began buying up the corner of Lincoln and Riverside in 1959. All the buildings came down in 1962 and 1963.

The gleaming white eight-story Lincoln building opened in 1964 with 58 percent occupancy, leading some to wonder if the building was bigger than the demand for first-class office space. But Lincoln board chair Roderick A. Lindsay announced it had full occupancy in 1967.

Leasing agent Louis Barbieri said, “With Spokane’s projected growth, I am convinced two or three more Lincoln Buildings will be required in the near future to fill office space requirements.”

Lincoln changed their name in 1976 to Lincoln Mutual Savings, new terminology for the same business. The late 1970s brought high interest rates, putting a squeeze on the business of making mortgage loans. Through the 1980s, up to a third of thrift institutions, shown to have been making risky investments, were going out of business or about to be shut down. In 1985, Lincoln folded into Washington Mutual, the largest savings and loan in the U.S. at the time. WaMu failed in 2008, and most of its assets transferred to JPMorgan Chase.

Correction: Reader Jeff Bergman notified the writer that the old Bergman Luggage store in Spokane was started by his grandparents, Charles and Sue Bergman and was not related to the Bergman Luggage started by Fred Bergman in Seattle.
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