Then and Now: Sherwood Building
John D. Sherwood was born in San Francisco in 1860. He was a new Harvard graduate when he arrived in Spokane on a Northern Pacific passenger train in 1883.
He would later write that Spokane was “a most interesting frontier town of about 1,500 population. It was in a state of wild excitement over the discovery of gold near Murray in the Coeur d’Alenes. The place was full of prospectors buying supplies to be hauled over the mountains on sleds.”
During the big fire of 1883, Sherwood was on the bucket line to save downtown buildings. He described the street scene in 1884: “There were cowboys from the Big Bend who gave us interesting exhibitions of horse breaking and pony racing; miners leading their pack trains; Canadian boatmen from the upper Columbia buying merchandise to smuggle across the line; Chinamen selling fine gold washed from the sands of the Columbia; lumber-jacks and ranchers all buying and trading or ‘blowing in’ their savings for a good time. I had the opportunity of meeting these people in a business way.”
Sherwood opened a clothing store, Sherwood and Dempsie, and ran a bowling alley. He was an early investor in electric power and street car travel with the people who eventually created the Washington Water Power Co. He bought a downtown lot at Riverside and Stevens and completed Spokane’s tallest building, the five-story Washington Building, in 1889, just a few months before the great fire destroyed it. He built again in 1891 and named the three-story structure the Sherwood Building.
In 1915, Sherwood hired architect Kirtland Cutter to design a replacement and opened the eight-story tower in 1917. Sherwood and his wife were killed in a car crash in 1919 in Half Moon Bay near San Francisco, his hometown.
The Sherwood has housed fashionable clothing stores for men and women, including Hart Shaffner and Marx and Rusan’s, on the ground floor. A shorter extension on the back of the building was a mall of smaller shops.
In recent years, Sterling Bank owned the building. Owner Tom Clemson took over in 2013, renovated the building and has renamed it the Cutter Tower, after its famous architect.