To step into the Davenport Hotel in downtown Spokane is to take a step back into time.
The ornate lobby quickly transports you back to the early 20th century when Spokane was booming and on the path to being one of the great cities of the West.
The hotel built in 1914 was the first in the country to have air conditioning, it had one of the finest ballrooms in the country in the Hall of Doges, and even was home to the first commercially licensed radio stations. It had linens made by the company who outfitted the Titanic, and had gold leaf surrounding the grand fireplace in the lobby.
Many of those features are still available today – minus the radio station – thanks to new ownership, which saved it from destruction in 2000.
Walt and Karen Worthy bought the historic structure and reopened it in 2002 after an expansive – and expensive – renovation, which included lifting the Hall of Doges intact out of the old building by crane, making it a flying ballroom. It was reinstalled in the new East addition as the foyer to the Grand Pennington Ballroom.
The hotel has had many famous guests, including Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, John F. Kennedy, Babe Ruth, Ringo Starr, and Bing Crosby – who got his start playing on the aforementioned radio station.
The hotel also has the Marie Antoinette Ballroom, which is a stunning white room with three chandeliers which were purchased for $10,000 each according to the hotel’s website, a beautiful balcony surrounding the dance floor and beautiful french doors overlooking the street below.
The Grand Pennington Ballroom was not open the two times I’ve visited, but is easily the largest space the hotel offers. You can see a photo here.
The lobby itself is fun to visit in its own right, with the marble flooring, big fireplace, Starbucks (ha!), and sculptures throughout. There are also historic photos ringing the second floor, which is an open balcony looking down upon the lobby.
The crown jewel of any trip to the Davenport, though, is certainly visiting the Hall of Doges.
With three chandeliers, beautiful green paint, pillars everywhere, and more, it is something that must be seen to believe.
The design was based on the Doge’s Palace in Venice and built in an elaborate Venetian Gothic style, according to the hotel’s website. “When it was completed in 1908, the Hall of Doges was called the most opulent ballroom north of San Francisco.”
While I’ve never stayed at the hotel – I always have free lodging with my parents – I try and make a point to visit the building when I’m in downtown Spokane. It is such an amazing structure, unlike any I’ve ever seen. The only thing loosely close is the Whitman Hotel in Walla Walla, but the Whitman is nowhere near as opulent as the Davenport.
– Craig Craker