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More apartments at Knickerbocker slated for renovation

The Knickerbocker Apartments, 507 S. Howard St., is in its ninth year of renovation. It is shown here in 2015. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
The Knickerbocker Apartments, 507 S. Howard St., is in its ninth year of renovation. It is shown here in 2015. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

More apartments in the historic Knickerbocker are getting renovated, according to city permit data.

The work on six units of the Knickerbocker Apartments, 507 S. Howard St., will install new showers, new kitchen cabinets and update the apartments’ electrical wiring.

The three-story, 30-unit building has been undergoing a top-to-bottom renovation since 2010, when the building’s previous owners, Mary and Eric Braden, began to overhaul the 108-year-old building at Fifth Avenue and Howard Street.

In 2015, the Bradens were recognized for their restoration work with an award from Spokane Preservation Advocates. They completed renovations to 20 apartments before selling the property to Portland-based developer Rob Brewster for $2.7 million in April.

Brewster, who grew up in Spokane, has embarked on a return to Spokane through the purchase of other historic properties that he has said he will renovate, including the McKinley School in East Central, the former Sterling Savings Bank building downtown and a small, corner grocery store in the South Perry District through the Seattle-based company he runs, InterUrban Development.

The Knickerbocker was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987 as one of four apartment buildings in Spokane designed by architect Albert Held.

The red brick and terra cotta Knickerbocker was built in 1911 for $200,000, and at the time it rented the most expensive apartments in the city. Residents were delivered fresh linens by in-house maids and had access to a billiards room, library and a private restaurant in the daylight basement on the building’s north side. The chef, James F. Wilson, created a menu with scores of items: Lobster a la Newburg, calf’s liver and bacon, finnan haddie, scrambled eggs with asparagus tips, pasta, sandwiches, sweetbreads, rarebits – made to order all day long and for less than a dollar.

As years passed, the restaurant was replaced with an ice cream parlor to please the students across Fifth Avenue at Lewis and Clark High School, which opened one year after the Knickerbocker. Residents enjoyed the shared entry room, its roaring fireplace and Honduran mahogany trim, as well as the rear courtyard and fountain.

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