The Davenport Hotel – 1913

Architect: Kirtland Cutter

A group of businessmen headed by Louis Davenport. Davenport was well connected in the Spokane business community. (Photograph courtesy of the Washington State Digital Archives)

By 1914, Spokane was becoming more sophisticated, at least for some.  Alongside the SRO hotels that housed the city’s workers were more elegant establishments for the well-heeled.  Prime among these was the Davenport, named after Louis Davenport, the first proprietor of the hotel.  The Davenport was the first hotel in the nation to feature air conditioning, a central vacuum system, a pipe organ, and dividing doors in the ballrooms.  Davenport did not use personal funds to build the hotel, financing was made available via a group of Spokane businessmen who needed a place to board and entertain their out of town guests.  The architect, Kirtland Cutter, was the leading architect at the time, so he was their first choice. Davenport already had a very popular name around town, which the businessmen felt would be advantageous for drawing in guests. 

This picture of a banquet inside the Hall of Doges at the Davenport Hotel shows the European influence used to decorate the interior of the hotel. (Photograph courtesy of the Washington State Digital Archives)

The hotel went up in eight months and not a single worker was seriously injured or killed, which was rare for the time period as there were injuries or deaths during almost all construction projects.  Cutter designed the interior of the hotel using inspiration from European architects, which is very apparent throughout the hotel, but especially in the ballrooms within the hotel.  To furnish the hotel, both Davenport and Cutter purchased furnishings from around the world.  The Davenport has not always been a successful venture.  After Davenport sold the hotel in the mid-1940s, every owner afterwards did not run the hotel with the best intentions and by 1985, the hotel was closed and facing demolition.  In 2000, Walt and Karen Worthy purchased the hotel and renovated it from top to bottom, at a cost of $38 million.  Since then, the hotel has expanded throughout the years and includes additional buildings, taking up several blocks of space in Downtown Spokane.  Since it’s opening, the hotel has promoted itself as “Washington’s Grandest Hotel.”

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Sources: Arskey, Laura. “Davenport Hotel.” History Link. Accessed May 30, 2018.

“Davenport Hotel.” Historic Properties of Spokane. Spokane Historic Preservation Office. Accessed May 30, 2018. 

“History and Architecture.” The Davenport Hotel. Accessed May 30, 2018.