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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Then and Now: Downtown’s former Crescent Block

The north side of the 700 block of West Riverside Avenue has a handful of buildings that have changed many times over 130 years. But the internal structures are still there, covered by modern exteriors.

At the Post Street corner is the two-story Galena building, an office and retail building put up in 1890. It has burned at least twice and been rebuilt.

The most enduring business was Lubin’s women’s apparel, there from 1916 to 1993.

Recently, Global Credit Union had an office on the corner for several years.

For most of the 20th century, the Galena had a jewelry store. Ben Cohn and Co. moved there in 1914. Zales, a national chain, took over the business in the mid-1950s and left in 1982. Then came Mandell’s, which lasted until 1987.

The Ridler Piano Bar, Method Juice Cafe and other businesses are inside the former Liberty Theater, a “movie palace” opened in 1915. The Liberty, a popular downtown attraction, closed in 1953. It was remodeled into a Lerner clothing store, part of a national chain, which moved to NorthTown Mall in 1991.

Most of the block’s frontage today wears an updated exterior of red brick and modern architectural touches that were added in 1994 for Sterling Savings Bank.

Underneath the update is the former Crescent department store.

Spokane Dry Goods, later renamed The Crescent, opened in 1889 and grew rapidly. Around 1899, the store moved to the 700 block of Main Avenue and connected to a new three-story block facing Riverside. Advertisements in the early 1900s proclaimed The Crescent as “Spokane’s Greatest Store.”

Over the next 60 years, the store would build a single massive block with seven stories facing Main and a modern, four-story Riverside entrance. The store had more than five acres of retail space under one roof. Before nationwide stalwarts like Sears, J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward arrived in town, The Crescent was part of Spokane’s social scene, where people went for banquets, fashion shows, wedding and formal clothes and holiday events. Friends met in its fine dining room or basement lunch counter.

Competition took its toll and the store was sold in 1988. After briefly taking the name Frederick & Nelson, the store closed in 1992.

Sterling Savings Bank was acquired in 2014 by Umpqua Bank, which has downsized its offices. The Spokane Police downtown precinct is now on the ground floor of the building.

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