Features in the hotel’s open-air lobby exude elegance and include a massive marble fountain, stately fireplace and ornate architectural details. Photos: courtesy of The Historic Davenport Hotel

Western Landmark: The Historic Davenport Hotel

The story of The Historic Davenport Hotel is the story of Spokane, Washington, a former trading and military outpost fed by the timber, mining and railroad industries in a region of the western United States known as the Inland Northwest. The Davenport, which has hosted such famous faces as Amelia Earhart, Babe Ruth, John F. Kennedy, Natalie Cole and Fleetwood Mac, embodies the aspirations of all associated with it, from its 1914 design-build team to the couple who reopened it in 2002.

The hotel was built by Louis Davenport in 1914, and a bronze sculpture by artist Vincent De Felice immortalizes the visionary developer at the hotel’s east entrance. Davenport relocated to Spokane from San Francisco, California, in 1889 and built his first eatery soon after. He then worked tirelessly to grow the restaurant into a widely successful establishment. That garnered attention from local investors who enlisted Davenport and local architect Kirtland Cutter [1860–1939] to conceive of a grand hotel serving Spokane’s growing business class.

Cutter’s architectural influence spans five decades, covering the Northwest from Seattle’s Rainier Club to Glacier National Park’s Lake McDonald Lodge. He often borrowed heavily from European architecture. The Davenport’s exterior, for example, was mirrored after Spanish Mission Revival architecture with terra cotta tiles, domed entryways and sandstone quarried from Boise, Idaho. A 1929 addition featured Italian Renaissance Revival elements: elongated windows, elaborate colonnettes and cornices, and decorative symbols — a knight’s helmet, a ram’s head — all of which were meant to convey prosperity, commerce and innovation.

Cutler’s design for the hotel’s interiors was an eclectic assemblage of styles and modern features such as air-cooled rooms and central vacuuming. A stately fountain, mezzanine and ornate glass-panel ceiling lend an open-air feeling to the lobby. The Marie Antoinette and Isabella ballrooms honor France and Italy, respectively, while the Tudor-style Elizabethan ballroom features folding doors to expand and contract the space.

The Hall of Doges, Cutter’s recreation of a Venetian palace, bridges past and present. When the current owners, Karen and Walt Worthy, undertook the hotel’s massive restoration in 2000, they had the Hall of Doges lifted by crane from the bones of Davenport’s original, turn-of-the-century restaurant and installed inside the second-floor lobby of the restored hotel. 

Prior to this renovation, the hotel had been closed for nearly 20 years. The Worthys hired artist Melville Holmes, an expert of Old Master techniques, to oversee the restoration, which included adding the Russian Imperial-style Pennington Ballroom. Although much of the hotel’s original furniture was missing, a library of vintage photographs aided in recreating the 284 guest rooms and shared spaces.

Although historic in nature — the Davenport is listed on the National Historic Register — it’s decidedly modern, too. As one of about 50 gold-level LEED certified hotels worldwide, the Davenport features marble walk-in showers and flat-screen TVs in guest rooms; a 24-hour fitness center and business center; a pool and spa; a florist shop; and several restaurants, including the Palm Court Grill, out of which the famous Crab Louis Salad originated.

And if the Davenport happens to be booked for the night, the Worthys operate three additional hotels — the Davenport Tower, the boutique Davenport Lusso and the recently constructed Davenport Grand — all within walking distance of the historic original.

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