Then and Now: The Merlin Hotel

The Merlin Hotel, later called the Merlin Apartments, opened in 1911. It was built for attorney Burton J. Onstine for $33,000. Spokane’s population was exploding, having grown from 37,000 residents in 1900 to over 100,000 by 1910. A Spokesman-Review story said there were 120 licensed hotels at the time.

Classified listings said the Merlin was “neat, clean and classy.” Rent, paid weekly or monthly, was cheap.

Like many downtown hotels, it was near the railroad tracks, and the neighborhood around the Merlin consisted of other residence hotels, some auto shops and wholesale businesses.

The first generation of tenants were a mix of downtown hourly employees, including waitresses, salesmen and

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