A historic building on East Sprague Avenue that long housed the Vien Dong Vietnamese restaurant has been sold and will be renovated, according to city permit data.
The permitted window replacement work is valued at just $40,000, but it signals the beginning of new life for the building.
The 109-year-old structure was purchased for $560,000 in August by Steve Schmautz and his wife, Tresa. Schmautz has invested significantly in the neighborhood since the city aimed $18 million it as part of its targeted investment program, which included a $4.3 million rehabilitation of the street.
In 2016, Schmautz purchased the Quality Garage building at 1919 E. Sprague Ave. and the Pilastro Building at 2012 E. Sprague Ave., next to the Bay Market. Both buildings have been substantially renovated and house antique stores. Schmautz is best known for his redevelopment of the American Legion building downtown and for his more recent renovation of the downtown building that houses the Spokane Comedy Club, Pinot’s Palette and Gamers Arcade Bar.
The “Framingham Building,” 1722 E. Sprague Ave., is a two-story brick building constructed in 1910 that was, in its early days, best known for housing the Barrett Manufacturing Co.
Barrett was a local furniture maker that “specialized in trendy, overstuffed furniture,” according to a 2016 survey of the East Central Neighborhood by Eastern Washington University students for the Historic Preservation Office for the City-County of Spokane.
Historic “ghost signs” for the company still adorn the building.
“The company, which was located on the corner of Sprague and Pittsburg, flourished in the 1920s and these signs likely date to that time,” according to the survey. “The Barrett ghost signs are for a neighborhood-specific business and not only help tell the story of East Central but of East Spokane as a whole: the founder of Barrett Manufacturing, DeRoy Barrett, moved to Spokane from a small town near Detroit in 1906, during Spokane’s explosive period of growth.”
As the building mirrored the decline of the surrounding neighborhood and fell into disrepair, it was purchased by the Tormino family, which owns Tormino’s Sash and Glass in the neighborhood.
Vien Dong closed its doors on East Sprague in 2018 and moved to a new location at 3435 E. Trent Ave. It’s unclear how long the restaurant had been in the Sprague building, but the family that owns the restaurant said it purchased it in 2005.
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