Originally built in 1899 as a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Hotel, the historic Montvale also served Spokane as
an apartment building, a brothel, and as a youth hostel during Expo ’74, and then it was abandoned for 30 years.
Originally built in 1899 as a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Hotel, the Montvale served Spokane as an apartment building, a brothel, and a youth hostel during Expo ’74, and then it was abandoned for 30 years.
As an SRO, each tenant had his/her own room as a measure of privacy. The Single Resident Occupancy or SRO system was a common form of living for the many working class laborers in Spokane.
Judge John W. Binkley built the three-story red brick building now known as the Montvale. It was named it after “Montvale Farms,” his country estate on the Little Spokane River. Binkley (1856-1931) served as a probate judge for Spokane County in 1885 and 1886. He had an active law practice, specializing in commercial and financial law, but came to concentrate more on his banking interests.
When built, the Montvale offered street-level commercial space with 30 residential rooms on each of the two upper floors. On each floor, the Montvale had men’s and women’s common washrooms that held two toilets and one bathtub. The washrooms were shared by the residents on each floor. Steam-heat was provided to each room via coal-powered steamers in the basement. By 1914, all residential rooms offered washbasins with hot and cold running water, built-in wardrobe closets, and each room was furnished.
Room rates for typical turn-of-the-century SROs were advertised at $1 to $2 per week, or $5 a month.
There were six street-level commercial bays in the Montvale, and over the years the bays housed various service and mercantile enterprises, but the largest and longest-standing tenant was Kilmer and Sons Hardware. Over time, the hardware store used the building’s basement for storage, and later, used the space as an emergency ammunition supply room during World War II.
After the death of Judge John W. Binkley in 1931, Binkley’s daughter sold the Montvale to his close friend and longest-standing commercial tenant William Kilmer of Kilmer Hardware. The Montvale building had been the home of the Kilmer & Sons hardware store from 1913 until the the sale of the building in 1966.
In 1966, Sam A. Postell, owner of Postell Enterprises and the Towne Center Motel, purchased the Montvale for $125,000. Under Postell’s ownership, the Montvale Block was operated as a youth hostel during the 1970s. During Expo ’74, the Montvale’s single occupancy rooms were rented for $2 a night to respond to the influx of people coming to Spokane to visit the Expo.
In 1980, Sam Postell sold the property to Spokane attorney Werner Rosenquist and under his watch the Montvale Block’s upper floors suffered from general neglect.
A developer bought the property, and two years later, the building was listed on the National Historic Register.
After renovations, the elegant Montvale Hotel was opened as Spokane’s premier boutique lodging destination. By 2015, the Montvale was purchased by Jerry Dicker.
The Montvale holds the unique distinction in Spokane as one of the city’s oldest, best-preserved, and longest-functioning SROs. It is the oldest standing hotel in Spokane today.