Bank of Spokane Falls

The Oldest Bank North of the Snake River

Spokane's first bank once stood on this site. Located on the northwest corner of Howard St. and Spokane Falls Boulevard (formerly Front St.), approximately where the Fountain Cafe is today, first stood the Bank of Spokane Falls.

Pioneer and businessman Anthony McCue Cannon came to Spokane in April 1878. After he and along with J.J. Browne purchased half of James Glover's townsite to establish Spokan Falls, Cannon sought to establish a bank in order to generate business and new settlers into his fledgling town. At the time, the only bank in eastern Washington was in Walla Walla. In 1879, he borrowed $1000 from his sister-in-law, Mrs. Pope, and began his bank without any formal license. Cannon also successfully lobbied the Northern Pacific Railroad to build a line to Cheney where he invited new settlers to come and live in his town. As the region's sole bank, Cannon's business soon prospered.

The location of the bank would change several times over the course of its history. In 1879, Cannon occupied the same building as James Glover's first store, built in 1873. Cannon later built an entire block from Main St. to Riverside and Mill St. (now Wall St.) to Howard St. where it would serve as his economic and financial hub. His new building was two stories tall and made of wood and located just west of the northwest corner of Mill and Riverside.

Wood might not have been the right choice. On the evening of August 4, 1889, the Great Spokane Fire swept away most of the fledgling city. Originating near the intersection of Post Street and Railroad Avenue, the fire quickly ravaged its way northward and consumed Cannon's Block. Immediately after the fire, he temporarily moved his bank to the Review Building where he used his connections with the Hypotheekbank Dutch firm to quickly rebuild downtown Spokane. There, the bank would remain, temporarily.

Cannon began construction on arguably one of the most audacious buildings in Spokane history, the Marble Bank Building. But on June 5, 1893, just a few weeks before the Bank of Spokane Falls was suppose to move into its new place, the bank failed. Cannon's reputation as a successful businessman belied the risks that he had taken. At the time of failure, the bank had $200,000 in cash deposits. But construction costs for his new bank building proved costly, costs that Cannon covered with his depositor's money and an additional $80,000 loan from Hypotheekbank.

When the Panic of 1893 struck, Cannon desperately tried to acquire loans to replenish his vault but to no avail. Cannon had no choice but to close his doors. He died two years later in 1895, broke. For the Bank of Spokane Falls, Spokane's oldest financial institution that began in 1879, its doors would remain forever shut.

Images

Bank of Spokane Falls After the Great Fire.

Bank of Spokane Falls After the Great Fire.

Location on the grounds of Fidelity Bank after the 1889 Great Spokane Fire. | Source: Blythe Thimson, "Spokane's Loose Cannon: A.M. Cannon's impact on Spokane," Spokane/CDA Living, June 2009. View File Details Page

Portraiture of A.M. Cannon

Portraiture of A.M. Cannon

Source: Image Courtesy of the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Adrienne Sadlo, “Bank of Spokane Falls,” Spokane Historical, accessed June 24, 2017, http://spokanehistorical.org/items/show/622.
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