The northeast corner of the intersection of Bernard Street and Riverside Avenue used to be a busy retail corner on the rougher side of town.
Some of East Spokane, especially around railroad tracks and depots, was considered part of skid row. Although there were wood-frame buildings on the corner before the great fire of 1889, the lots west of the 1910 Realty Building, now the Delaney Apartments, and the corner were rebuilt with single-story brick storefront buildings housing cafes, taverns, auto tire repair shops, laundries, a hat cleaning service and one of Spokane’s first pet stores.
From the 1920s until it was torn down, the angled corner building housed the Little Brick Corner, one of many taverns near the intersection. It was unrelated to a popular family restaurant called the Little Brick Cafe at 210 N. Howard St. for many years.
The location was close to Spokane’s original “Chinatown,” where Japanese and Chinese immigrants had established businesses. Spokane city guides identify a fish dealer named T. Miyazawa as adjacent to the tavern in the 1930s.
Prohibition put a stop to the alcohol trade. Washington state’s Legislature approved its own prohibition on manufacture and distribution that went into effect on Jan. 1, 1916, four years before national Prohibition. Overnight, Spokane’s beer parlors switched to selling soft drinks and food, as well as beginning a cat-and-mouse game with Spokane County’s “dry squad” that would last until 1933, when national Prohibition was repealed.
Despite the repeal, the Little Brick Corner ran afoul of license restrictions several times through the 1930s.
Downtown parking problems led Old National Bank to buy the corner in 1951 and demolish the buildings in 1952. The landmark 1910 ONB building two blocks west, on Stevens Street, had no off-street parking or drive-thru. In 1954, the bank opened a modern branch with a drive-thru. Advertisements for the new branch guaranteed one hour of free parking to customers.
The building at 266 W. Riverside served ONB, and then RainierBank, for more than 30 years, then Standard Blue Print Co. moved into the building in 1990. Standard was started by S.W. Miller in 1909 and taken over by Eugene DeSmeth in 1919. DeSmeth’s descendants are still involved in the business, now called Standard Printworks.
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