Olaf A. Jacobsen was born in Norway in 1860 and arrived in Spokane in 1888. He started a bakery on the corner of College Avenue and North Ash Street in 1889. The building was also listed as the residence for Olaf and his wife, Mary. For almost a century, Spokane ate bread from the one-story baking plant on the north side.
Jacobsen was born in Norway’s capital, Oslo, and later lived in Copenhagen, Denmark, as a teen. He learned his trade in Denmark’s royal bakery, where the products went only to the royal palace. “It was my job to bake the bread that young Crown Prince Frederick liked, also his special cakes and cookies. But the urge for America was too strong and I’ve never regretted that I came here,” he said in 1935.
In those early days, the operation was just Olaf and one or two family members mixing, hand-kneading and forming loaves for a wood-fired Dutch oven built with bricks from the rubble of the 1889 fire. Deliveries were on horseback, in buggies and even on foot. When streetcars became common, they were used as well. He told the Spokane Chronicle that delivering bread in the early days was no small problem: “Many is the time bakery wagons and trucks would be stuck in knee-deep mud on Riverside Avenue.”
Jacobsen would later install coal-fired ovens to increase capacity, eventually moving in 1935 to oil-burning ovens with moving trays that could bake 1,500 pounds of bread an hour.
While he built a reputation for quality bread, Jacobsen was competing head-to-head with the giant Spokane Bakery Co. at Post and Broadway and the nearby Silver Loaf Baking Co., both of which used the latest high-volume ovens to produce brand names, such as Wonder bread and Holsum.
Jacobsen died in 1946, and his five sons – Melchior, Norman, Fred, George and Carl – and daughter Gudrun Watsdorf took over bakery operations. The family sold to Eddy’s Bakery, which was based in Montana, around 1960. Boge Bakery, another Spokane bakery family, bought out Eddy’s in 1966, taking over the old Jacobsen plant. Boge was shut down in 1986.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.