The Woodward Building

The many lives of a Spokane commercial building

One of the oldest buildings in Spokane, the Woodward has hosted everything from frontier saloons to Chinese-American clubs in its almost 130-year history.

The Woodward Building is one of the oldest commercial buildings in Spokane. It was built in 1890 and was one of the first buildings built after the Great Fire. In August 1889, a fire destroyed all the buildings on this block in addition to 29 square blocks of downtown Spokane.

The building was financed by Minnesota businessman Lafayette Woodward, and designed by Spokane architect Herman Preusse, who also designed several Spokane landmarks, the Armory, Holy Names Academy, and Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral among others.

The Woodward Building was built to provide housing for the many working-class people who flocked to Spokane to work in jobs created by the re-building of the city after the fire and continued economic growth in mining, lumber, and agriculture. Called a Single-Room Occupancy hotel or SRO, the Woodward offered its boarders a basic furnished room. Rooms were located on the second and third floors, and a saloon serving liquor, cigars, and simple food, was located on the street level. The hotel served as a SRO for 51 years.

The Crystal Hotel, the Kingston, the State, and the Moose Hotel were the different names of the SRO from 1890 to 1947. In 1947, after 6 years of sitting vacant, the American Shanghai Club leased the upper floors for the club's headquarters, meeting hall, and possibly rooms for club members. Again the upper floors were vacant through the 1960s. Beginning in the 1970s, the upper floors were remodeled as offices and have been used continuously for various businesses from an architectural firm to telecommunications businesses.

The saloon on the street level changed hands several times, first in 1890 the Duffy and Hill's Saloon, Duffy and Butler's Saloon, the Howard Saloon, the Butler and Tibballs Saloon, and in 1909, the 117 Bar. From 1912 to 1914 the first floor served as home to a theater with "moving pictures." In 1915, a meat market occupied the first floor, a restaurant opened in 1917, and the Carolina Café in 1923. During the 1920s, Jimmie Durkin, the infamous bartender and saloon keeper of early Spokane, purchased the Woodward. Durkin operated a quiet restaurant until leasing it to Woodworth's Café in 1934, and the Hil-Mar Dinette from 1939 to 1950. From the 1950s to the present businesses have ranged from apparel and music to import goods and bridal fashions.

The Woodward Building was placed on the Spokane Historic Register in November 2002.