The Great Western Savings and Loan building was constructed in 1900. It was originally named the Empire State Building, for the Empire State - Idaho company. The building was paid for by Charles Sweeny and F. Lewis Clark, who also funded the construction of many other prominent buildings that year. The building was designed by John K. Down, one of Spokane's pioneer architects and was the city's first fire proof structure. The original estimated price for the construction was $100,000, however the final construction cost was about $800,000. The rise in cost was largely because of the use of fine materials such as imported oak and marble. The rise in Carnegie steel and a shortage of bricks in Spokane due to a building boom in the Inland Empire also drove the price up. During the beginning of the 20th century the Empire State Building was the pride of the city. It was the second most photographed building, only surpassed by the Courthouse. The original lifts were fast for their time and thrilled visitors. Washington Water Power occupied the first floor of the building from its competition in 1900 until it was bought by Great Western Savings and Loan in 1958. When Great Western bought the building from Central Business Property, who had owned it since 1912, they moved into the ground floor.
The building is six stories and 96 feet tall. It has a steel frame and exterior brick facing. The building is lavishly covered with fine detail. The interior of the building is even more luxuriously decorated. Despite much interior renovation, much of the original ornamentation has been preserved. The exterior of the first floor has been modified to add large plate glass windows, but the upper floors have undergone little modification. However, the darkening of the terracotta over the years has obscured many of the fine details.