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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Then and Now: Hotel Butler

A three-story lodging house stood at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Lincoln Street from 1907 until 1966. At first it was called Hotel 223, but the name was too cryptic for many visitors so the operator, Phoebe B. Cox, changed the name to Hotel Butler.

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Image One Photo Archive | The Spokesman-Review
Image Two Jesse Tinsley | The Spokesman-Review

Then and Now: Hotel Butler

Clarence G. Hubbard was born in 1869 in New York state, and he came to the northwest as a teen in 1886 to his first job, which was on the Northern Pacific Railroad, based in Sprague, Washington. His family was enterprising and ran a variety of companies, hotels and railroads in the region.

In 1896, the industrious young man moved to Spokane. After a dozen years of saving, Hubbard, and likely some family members, built a 57-room hotel at the corner of South Lincoln Street and West Third Avenue in 1907 and various people operated it over the years.

The first proprietor was Phoebe B. Cox, a recently-divorced women who said she had been abandoned by her husband in Spokane. She named the new lodgings “Hotel 223,” a reference to the street address on Lincoln Street.

The name was so confusing to visitors that Cox dropped it and changed it to Hotel Butler, a more common name. The name stuck for the next 60 years, though the property was divided and part of it operated under the name New Bedford Hotel.

Cox was the only woman on the Spokane County Republican committee, maybe the only committeewoman in Eastern Washington, according to tThe Spokesman-Review. In 1912, she spoke before the state Republican convention, saying that she and other women were committed to Teddy Roosevelt, nominated or not,because he had declared support for women’s suffrage.

Though it’s not clear why, Cox was the first person in Spokane County history to file a “certificate of business title” to make sure no one else could use the name Hotel Butler. Though now a common practice, it was new in 1912.

After several years of struggle in the hotel business, Cox sold her lease on the hotel in 1913 and bought a hog and dairy farm in Camden, Washington. Her grown son would take over the farm.

After Cox left, part of the Hotel Butler became the New Bedford Apartments, which at firstoffered was a women-only lodging house, managed by a house matron.

Clarence Hubbard would take over the hotel again in 1915 and help manage it  until his death in 1952 at age 83.

With Spokane’s downtown population dwindling, the owners, including Clarence’s son Glen Hubbard, sold the aging apartment house to the Texaco company in 1966 for a new service station.

Bevan’s Matawan Texaco opened there in 1968. The site became a Burger King restaurant in the early 1980s and a Zip’s Drive-In in the early 2000s.

Caption: 1907: Built by businessman Clarence G. Hubbard in 1907, the Hotel 223 at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and Lincoln Street was operated by Phoebe B. Cox when it first opened. She changed the name to Hotel Butler shortly after because the numerical name was too confusing to explain to visitors. Part of the building was later renamed as the New Bedford Apartments until it was sold in 1966 to the Texaco oil company for a new service station.

Present day: A Zips Drive-In restaurant sits at the northeast corner of Lincoln Street and Third Avenue in downtown Spokane on Friday. It is the site of the former three-story Hotel Butler and New Bedford Apartments that were there from around 1907 to 1966, when it was sold to Texaco for a service station. Bevan’s Texaco opened in 1968. The site became a Burger King restaurant in the early 1980s. It became a Zip’s Drive-In around 2005.

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