Then and Now: Downtowner Motel

Gerald O. “Jerry” Larson was raised in North Dakota and moved to the Northwest in 1938. He was a door-to-door salesman, a construction worker and served in the Army Air Corps Reserve during World War II. He arrived in Spokane in 1951 and continued in the construction industry.

In 1956, Larson formed Spokane Motels, Inc. with Claude C. Murray and hardware store owner Wendell Hoesly to build two motels, which still stand today.

The motel, short for motor hotel, evolved from America’s love affair with automobile travel. Early 20th-century travelers often camped or rented tiny cabins. After World War II, motels proliferated and offered modern comforts at discounted rates

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