The National Hotel was built in 1905 and is a typical example of the "single room occupancy" type of building, which was a popular style in Spokane at the time. The building is indicative of the SRO style, featuring symmetrically balanced exterior fenestration patterns, street-level retail bays, and a separate street-level entrance that led to upper-story hotel rooms.
The National Hotel is significant to commercial and social history of Spokane.The hotel was built in the midst of Spokane's largest period of growth during the early twentieth century. At this time Spokane saw a huge influx of working class men and women due to the city's growing reputation as a resource and transportation center for lumber, agriculture and mining. Historian Orville Pratt said of Spokane's population boom "so many men were thronging in that the hotels and lodging houses could not care for them." Craig Holstine in his work, Single Occupancy Hotels in the Central Business District of Spokane, Washington, 1900 to 1910, explains that hotel and apartment construction peaked from 1900 to 1910, but after that time, construction of working class housing all but ceased. the population influx resulted in a building boom which sparked the construction of SROs throughout the Spokane region.
The building was first built for prominent Spokane pioneer, local businessman, and politician, Huber Rasher and his wife Margaret. When the National Hotel was built in 1905, it had a total of forty-two single occupancy hotel rooms on the second and third floors of the building. From the time of its construction until the mid-1950's, the storefronts of the building housed a variety of saloons, taverns, cafes, restaurants, and meat and grocery markets. During and after prohibition, the hotel saloon was occupied by "confectioners".
In 1967, a portion of the commercial building block was demolished, leaving the east half of the building intact. The National Hotel retains its identifying features as an SRO property type. The original location, design, and workmanship are still exhibited in such features as the building's three-story rectangular commercial block form, and its unreinforced brick masonry construction.