The Balkan Hotel – 1909

Architect/Builder: C.E. Wentzel

The Balkan Hotel was the first hotel that catered to a specific group of immigrants. (Photograph courtesy of the Spokane Historic Preservation Office)

By 1909, Spokane was a booming center for the region’s mining, lumber, and agriculture industries.  Immigrants produced much of the labor to wrest these treasures from the earth, and Spokane soon had its fair share of Norwegian, Swedish, and other Eastern European workers.  Among these were a small group of Balkan immigrants.  Like a majority of the hotels built around the turn of the century, the Balkan Hotel was a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel.  However, the Balkan was the first SRO to cater to a specific ethnic group.  The area the Balkan is located in became an enclave for Balkan Peninsula immigrants.  The hotel focused on immigrants from this region not only through the hotel, but via the attached restaurant.  The first occupants of the hotel were fifteen male laborers with the same last name – Bulattovich – yet by 1910, the occupants consisted of guests from Sweden, Italy, Montenegro, Canada, and Wisconsin, so the hotel did not cater to exclusively Balkan guests for long. 

The first permits for wiring in the hotel were issued in 1908 as the hotel was being built, listing Schade Brewing Co. as the owners.  It is very likely that the hotel was built to work in tandem with the restaurant to serve laborers who came to the city as the need for workers boomed.  While the brewery and hotel kept their same names, they changed owners quite quickly, with a new owner listed almost every year from 1911 through 1915.  However, with the enactment of Prohibition, the fate of the hotel was as doomed as the brewery and the proprietors of both gave up their interests.  After this, the hotel and street level businesses became separate entities and the hotel was eventually used by the Salvation Army as housing for the poor. 

After the Salvation Army occupied the space, the hotel operated under several different names – the Havel Hotel in 1920, the New Dahl Hotel from 1923 to 1932, and the Royal Hotel from 1933 through 1955.  The hotel is listed as vacant after this point, with only businesses occupying the street level spaces.  As of today, the entire building is unoccupied. 

Find Me! 31 W. Main Ave., Spokane, WA.

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Sources: “Balkan Hotel.” Historic Properties of Spokane. Spokane Historic Preservation Office. Accessed May 30, 2018. http://properties.historicspokane.org/property/?PropertyID=1724

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