THE SARANAC, THEN AND NOW...


The Saranac Hotel, a single room occupancy (SRO) facility, was constructed by Hiram “Harry” Hutton during Spokane’s most significant period of growth. The hotel operated continuously as a modest SRO from its construction in 1910 until 2004 when the entire building was vacated.


The Saranac provided lodging for working class clientele, who were often new residents to Spokane. The U.S. Census of 1920 listed twenty-five “lodgers” in the Saranac. Most of them were in their 30s, with a range from 18 years to 50 years old. Five were women, the rest were men. The residents were laborers, cooks, a restaurant owner, a waiter, a brick layer, a carpenter, a railroad repair worker, a bridge carpenter, a bridge mechanic and several other laborers (woods, railroad, farm). Nationalities were Japanese, Swedish, Italian, French and Polish.


Businesses occupying the building included City Hand Laundry, Background Music Services, the Glass Hospital, Johnny Carpet Cleaners, the Longhorn Trading Post, Hiklan Enterprises, and Devil’s Island Software. In 1986, after changing hands several times, the building was sold to Skip Chilberg (former Spokane County Commissioner and Assessor). Chilberg sold the building to David Hiklan, who in turn, sold it to Joe Harwood and Corey Colvin. Community Building founder Jim Sheehan purchased the property in 2005 and commenced with a $4 million ‘sustainable building practices’ renovation that includes the now interconnected restaurant, which joins the adjacent Community Building assembly of mostly not-for-profit organizations.

Today the building is perhaps best recognized for the south-facing sweep of large solar panels on the building’s roof, which gives it a distinctive look from afar. Inside, the Saranac art project gallery and Saranac Public House on the building’s ground floor inject touches of curiosity and epicurean adventure to complement all the cerebral work going on upstairs.


The Saranac Building’s renovated physical attributes reflect this desire to encourage positive change. Designed according to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum standards, the Saranac boasts an extensive use of energy and resource-saving technology, making it one of the greenest buildings in Washington and home to the one and only Saranac Public House.

 

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