Today’s Bennett Block is comprised of what were once three distinct buildings: Bennett Building, constructed in 1890; Lockhardt Building, constructed in 1890; and the Star Hotel Building, constructed in 1892. They were built after the great fire that destroyed most of downtown Spokane in 1889. These buildings housed a wide variety of unique businesses, including the Snow Shoe Saloon (1899), William Carroll Cigars and Tobacco (1900), a Japanese restaurant (1901), the Angel Contos Shoe Shining Parlor (1925), and the A-1 Drug Company (1929) to name a few. The three buildings became one property in 1928 when a Spokane real estate developer, John G. F. Hieber, obtained the trio of buildings and decided to turn them into a single property.
The building’s namesake, Bascomb H. Bennett, first arrived in Spokane to work as a cashier at the Bank of Spokane Falls. This bank was owned by a prominent resident of Spokane, Anthony M. Cannon. Bennett secured his place in Spokane society by marrying Cannon’s daughter. Once he had gained some social standing, Bennett began managing both the Arlington and the Grand Hotels in town. He became one of the richest young men in Spokane, and after the fire of 1889 Bennett decided to construct his own building.
At the time, many believed Bennett to be perfect gentleman, but others knew that he had a darker side. In 1882, Bennett and his father-in-law confronted Spokane Times editor, Francis H. Cook, because the Spokane Times had published material that cast some of Spokane’s founding fathers in a negative light. Bennett and Cannon threatened Cook with pistols, and demanded that the Spokane Times retract damaging statements that had been published about Cannon. Cook ended up defending himself by beating Bennett and Cannon with an iron stick, and Bennett and Cannon were charged with attempted murder. They were never convicted, mostly because the jury was filled with Spokane socialites that were friends of the pair. This incident has been referred to by The Spokesman-Review as “one of the most infamous confrontations in Spokane newspaper history.”