The Alger Bristol Hotel – 1905

Architect/Builder: Reginald K. Neill

The Alger-Bristol Hotel was home to a wide variety of working-class immigrants. (Photograph courtesy of the Spokane Historic Preservation Office)

Spokane in 1904 was a city bursting with growth and opportunity.  The Alger-Bristol Hotel provided housing for these new incomers and served Spokane’s working-class citizens for more than 75 years.  The hotel’s building was constructed for Reginald K. Neill, a well-known Spokane mining magnate, real estate developer, and merchant.  The “Hotel Alger,” named in honor of a family member named Alger Neill, opened in this year.  According to architectural historian Robert Hyslop, the hotel “was favorably located in the immediate view from the Northern Pacific Depot” directly across the street from the hotel.  This ideal location provided accommodations for not only workers, but travelers as well and the hotel was designed to accommodate as many guests as possible with a capacity of up to seventy-five guests at a time.     

The 1910 census offers a window into the varied residents of the Alger at that time.  Hotel rooms were rented to guests from around the world.  Workers from New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, Germany, England, and Ireland inhabited the rooms here.  Unlike many of the other SROs in Spokane in which most lodgers were laborers or railroad workers, the Alger hosted residents with a wide variety of occupations.  Some of the jobs held by lodgers were a little out of the ordinary, like Vernetta Patterson from South Dakota and Mrs. Tuttle from Wisconsin who are both listed as “Lady Barbers” at a barber shop.  Other residents held positions as waitresses, waiters, lawyers, doctors, hotel chambermaids, bartenders, and telegraph operators.

In 1916, the name of the hotel was changed to the Bristol Hotel after being sold to former rancher and pioneer John Enos in 1910.  The property was sold again in 1946 to Leon and Mary Oriard.  Similar to most SROs, the first floor of the building, with the exception of the lobby, was used for commercial and retail space.  These spaces housed dressmakers, furniture manufacturers, a barber shop, a clock shop, and various flooring stores.  The building operated under the Bristol Hotel name until 1980 and housed mostly working-class men.

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Source: “Alger-Bristol Hotel.” Historic Properties of Spokane. Spokane Historic Preservation Office. Accessed May 30, 2018. http://properties.historicspokane.org/property/?PropertyID=1716

Spokane. Spokane County. 1910 U.S. Census, population schedule. Digital images. Ancestry.com. May 28, 2018. http://ancestry.com.