A partially completed three-story warehouse that survived the Great Fire of 1889 was quickly redesigned as a grand hotel. In the chaotic days following the fire, the shell of the building, at the corner of Stevens Street and First Avenue, was purchased by a partnership and built into the five-story Spokane Hotel, also called the Hotel Spokane, the grandest the city had seen.
The exterior and all 200 rooms were lit with electric lights. Shortly after opening, the hotel became the second in the country to install a telephone in every room. Its restaurant could seat hundreds of patrons and featured a giant fireplace where roast beef turned on a spit while being basted. In 1903, the restaurant was named The Silver Grill.
In post-World War II Spokane, early hotels were beginning to look dated. After a disastrous fire at the Ridpath Hotel, a new, modern Ridpath tower opened in 1952.
The owners of the Ridpath acquired the historic Spokane Hotel through a stock purchase of the hotel company’s stock in 1961. The old hotel served Christmas dinner that year, then it was demolished. Architects Walker & McGough of Spokane designed a five-story, motel-style building with about 70 rooms, utilizing some of the older building’s foundations. The new Ridpath Motor Inn, across First Avenue from the Ridpath Annex, opened in August 1963.
The motel was connected to the Ridpath complex with the city’s first skywalk, stretching 80 feet across First Avenue. There was also a basement tunnel which had a conveyor belt for transporting supplies. The Ridpath’s network never was connected to the rest of the downtown skywalk system.
The new motor inn, catering to America’s new generation of car travelers, provided parking in an underground garage and behind the motel. All rooms had a view of the second-story swimming pool deck. Large meeting rooms could cater to convention business. Many banquets, shows and conventions took place in the Legend Room and Empire Ballroom.
The motor inn closed with the rest of the Ridpath complex in 2008. The buildings languished in a tangle of owners for several years. Washington Trust Bank purchased the motor inn in 2014 and partially demolished it. Future plans for the site are unknown.
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