The biggest difference between the 1955 photo of West Sprague and the current day are the two major bank buildings added since the earlier photo was taken. The 20-story Bank of America Financial Center, built for SeaFirst Bank around 1980, would become the tallest building in Spokane and still holds that title today. It would take the demolition of an entire block to make room for the giant stainless steel tower.
Before the tower, the eastern half of the block bounded by Riverside and Sprague avenues and Wall and Howard streets was taken up by the 1931 Spokane and Eastern Bank building.
The western half of the block was taken up by the Hyde Block, the Title Building and a few smaller structures, all of which would come down in 1979 to start building the SeaFirst Financial Center. That was the modern name for the Seattle First National Bank, which had taken over Spokane and Eastern Bank during the 1930s. Joel E. Ferris was the longtime bank president of the Spokane & Eastern, before and after the merger. He was the namesake of Ferris High School.
Seen in the 1955 photo, the Radio Central building second from right, just across Post Street from the Davenport Hotel, was once the location of Eilers’ Music, the location of KHQ and KGA radio as well as the local stock exchange office. It was one of several buildings taken in the early 1970s to clear the block and build the 15-story Washington Trust Building at the corner of Sprague Avenue and Post Street.
Washington Trust Bank was founded in 1902. A controlling interest was purchased in 1919 by E.H. Stanton and it's been operated by the Stanton family ever since. In 1933, the bank acquired the location of the current building, which was the former Spokane Savings and Loan. Once the tower was erected, other buildings on the site, including the longtime stationery store of John W. Graham, were torn down and replaced with a parking garage.
The Washington Trust building was built in the early 1970s. It was part of a flurry of new construction before Expo ’74.
Another major project since the early photo was the Spokane Transit Authority bus plaza, built in 1995.
1955: Sprague Avenue, looking east from the Davenport Hotel, has been cleared of streetcar tracks and electric poles, offering a cleaner streetscape than in earlier years. Two of Spokane’s biggest, and most modern, bank buildings, Bank of America Financial Center and Washington Trust Bank, now stand in stark contrast to the brick hotels and offices of the early 20th century.
Present day: Looking east on Sprague Avenue from the Davenport Hotel, the biggest changes of the past 60 years or so are the 20-story Bank of America Financial Center and the 15-story Washington Trust Bank building. Facing Sprague Avenue at left are three classic Spokane buildings, including Miller Block, the Whitten Block and the Peyton Annex. Beyond the Peyton, three smaller buildings were replaced by the STA Plaza in 1995.