The Willard/Otis Hotel – 1911

Architect/Builder: Arthur Cowley and Archibald Rigg

Built in 1911, the Willard Hotel was financed by one of Spokane’s earliest residents, Dr. Joseph E. Gandy.  Gandy was born in Wisconsin and moved to Washington Territory in 1876 after earning his degree in medicine from the University of Michigan a few years earlier.  In 1880, after learning of the better climate in Eastern Washington, he moved east with his first wife and their two children.  Gandy and his second wife, Harriett Ross Gandy, hired architects Arthur Cowley and Archibald Rigg, who collaborated for a very short period of time.  The hotel was designed as a single occupancy hotel (SRO) with the intention of profiting from the large influx of workers migrating to the city at this time.  Upon completion, the Willard featured 40 rooms with common bathrooms on each floor.  At five stories high, it is on the taller side when compared to other SROs within the city.  Although the hotel was built after the labor surge, the hotel still did quite well. 

The Willard Hotel, now known as the Otis has changed hands many times over the years, but is still in operation. (Photograph courtesy of the Spokane Historic Preservation Office)

The Willard hotel changed hands in 1921, with Spokane hotelier Victor Dessert becoming the new owner.  Mr. Dessert changed the name to the Atlantic Hotel.  By 1941, the name had again changed to the Milner Hotel and the name was changed yet again to the Earle Hotel in 1948.  The final name change occurred in 1956 when the property was given its current name, the Otis hotel.  The property continued to operate as a hotel for many years, but in the later years, the hotel began to deteriorate due to its clientele consisting of mostly elderly and physically challenged guests who relied on fixed incomes.  Unlike most of the SROs in Spokane, the Otis Hotel is still in operation just as it was when it opened with commercial space on the ground floor and single room tenants upstairs.

Find Me! 1101 W. First Ave., Spokane, WA

The next era of hotels are the Luxury and Mid-Century Modern hotels.  

Source: “Willard Hotel.” Historic Properties of Spokane. Spokane Historic Preservation Office. Accessed May 30, 2018.