The commercial Renaissance Revival style structure that dominates the intersection of Washington Street and W. Riverside Avenue is a spectacle of the wealth acquired through the Coeur d'Alene mining industry. The population of Spokane tripled during 1900 to 1910, going from an average western town of 36,000 to over 100,000. Savvy businessmen were putting their unique signature on the budding city through the construction of extravagant buildings. F. Lewis Clark and Charles Sweeny were such businessmen. Almost overnight, the two men became vastly wealthy after signing a deal regarding the Coeur d'Alene mines.
F. Lewis Clark wanted to offer the members of the Spokane Club a building that they could grow into. Clark and Sweeny hired the architect J.K. Dow to erect a grand building, whose lavishness could be admired from the streets. The Spokane Club was one of Dow's first architectural contributions to the city. After the completion of the American Legion, the young architect built the Masonic Temple, the Paulsen Building and the Hutton Building. He moved to Seattle in 1937, where he continued to work. No one really knows what happened to Mr. Clark. It is said that after he moved to Santa Barbara with his wealth, he mysteriously disappeared.
The grand America Legion and the Empire State Building were the first structures in Spokane to be built with fireproof structural steel and have high speed electric elevators. Architecturally, the symmetrical building is richly detailed in the Renaissance Revival mode.