Let me first start off with a little update–I’m sorry for how quiet things have been here on the blog lately, but as I mentioned here, I just accepted a position doing marketing for a tourism bureau, Matt has been teaching online and doing some subbing, and we just got a little house north of Seattle. It’s been a busy couple of weeks with packing, moving, job training and getting settled, but I think things are finally calming down. Now that we’re back in our adopted hometown of Seattle, I wanted to share some images from the place I grew up, where we’ve been living since returning from Asia–Spokane, Washington.
One thing we vowed to ourselves upon returning to the States was that we would proceed to explore each place as if we were tourists, and experience each place as if it were brand new to us. Growing up in Spokane, I never really appreciated the uniqueness of the downtown area–nestled right against the river, overlooking an impressive dam, full of historic charm and modern conveniences (hello, Nordstrom!), and compared to Seattle, there are really no crowds or traffic to speak of. When I was a teenager living there, I thought it was boring and I couldn’t wait to get out to go to the big city. Now as an adult, I have a whole new appreciation for the quiet, the quaintness and the nostalgic feelings walking around the city brings up.
One of the most impressive pieces of downtown Spokane is “the hotel.” Spokane is not a small town, and there are hundreds of hotels. But if you say to a local while downtown “we’re having lunch at the hotel,” everyone will know exactly what hotel you are talking about. The Davenport Hotel was built in 1913 by now-famed architect Kirkland Cutter, in collaboration with a Spokane restauranteer named Louis Davenport and a group of interested businessmen. The Davenport was an innovation in many ways–it was the first hotel in the U.S. to have air conditioning and a central vacuum system. The hotel also boasted chilled water piped to every room and a state of the art elevator system. Over the years the hotel has hosted a number of famous visitors, including former U.S. presidents, film stars, writers and more–some of the most famous guests include Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bing Crosby (a Spokane native), Clark Gable, Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart.
During WWII the hotel suffered from a shortage of labor and supplies, and as part of the war effort the beautiful skylights were blacked out. In 1945 Louis Davenport retired and sold the hotel, and over the next couple of decades, the state of the hotel declined until it was so bad that there was talk of demolition. In 1986 measures were taken to protect the hotel from demolition until a new owner could be found.
That finally happened in 2000 when Spokane property developer Walt Worthy bought the hotel for $6.5 million and started a $36 million restoration. He and his architects restored the hotel to her former glory, and today, you’d never know how decrepit she had become at one point. But I remember, which makes it all the more impressive to me–when I was in elementary school I took a field trip to see the run-down hotel. I remember the blacked out skylights and the dry, cracked fountain. I’m still perpetually amazed at the transformation. Every time I enter the premises, I feel as if I’ve boarded the Titanic. It’s grand, it’s glamorous, and it’s full of history.
I appreciate the history and beauty of my hometown so much more now that I’m older. What’s something you love about your hometown?