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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Then and Now: The Bennett Block

Bascomb H. Bennett, born in Oregon in 1859, moved to Spokane in the early 1880s.

In 1883, Bennett married Marie W. Clark, the stepdaughter of Anthony M. Cannon, one of early Spokane’s wealthiest businessmen. Rising quickly in business with his family connections, he became a partner in the Arlington Hotel at Howard and Main. His father-in-law made him the cashier of the Bank of Spokane Falls.

Spokane Times editor Francis H. Cook repeatedly derided city powerbrokers, including Cannon, J.J. Browne and James Glover, for heavy-handed tactics. The city fathers answered back in the Spokane Falls Chronicle. But it came to a head when Bennett and his future father-in-law, Cannon, confronted Cook in his office. With Cook’s wife and baby nearby, the two drew pistols, demanding a retraction. Cook biographer Doris Woodward writes that Cook resisted, knocking their pistols away, though one errant shot was fired. Cook then beat the two soundly. The two were charged with attempted murder, but a grand jury, led by James Glover, refused to indict.

Bennett lost his hotel in the 1889 fire and the new Bennett Block was built in the same location in 1890 for $40,000. The Bank of Spokane Falls closed suddenly in the panic of 1893 and Cannon died broke in 1895. Bennett died of the Spanish flu in 1898 at age 39, leaving a wife and 14-year-old son.

Beer brewer and businessman John G. F. Hieber acquired the Bennett Block in 1909. He had operated successful breweries after moving to Spokane in 1888. Prohibition shut him down in 1920, but he had already pivoted to real estate. Hieber died in 1941, but the family still owns the block and The Bennett, with hotel rooms – later apartments – on upper floors, was made over as a shopping mall connected to the skywalk system in the 1970s. The Hieber family also owns the attached buildings, which were previously home to businesses as Cyrus O’Leary’s, Brooks Clothiers, Jay Jacobs, Hahn Western Wear and Little Brick Café.

Hieber’s granddaughter, Dru Hieber, has remodeled the building from retail to office space and reconfigured the skywalk connections that have been in place since 1967.

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