The Hall of the Doges

One of the most beloved historic rooms in the Davenport (and indeed Spokane), the Hall of the Doges, was built directly above the famous Davenport’s Restaurant a decade before the adjoining hotel opened in 1914. Architect Kirtland Cutter was asked by Louis Davenport to “spare no expense” in  designing a ballroom and reception hall that would “eclipse in luxury and splendor anything of its kind west of the Mississippi.” Such was the prosperity of the great “Inland Empire” that flowed into its capital city, Spokane. A sense of its gorgeous and festive atmosphere can be derived from the costume ball photo from 1910.

Detail of a painting by Canaletto with arrow showing design used by Kirtland Cutter
A Costume Ball in the Hall of the Doges Libby photo Eastern Washington State Historical Society L87-1.2381-10

Cutter’s original inspiration for this lavish chamber derived from the famous Palace of the Doges in Venice, most notably in the quatrefoilwindows and Gothic arches on the second stories of each structure.  One is tempted to wonder if a Venetian theme was selected because Venice in its days of glory was the heart of a vast mercantile empire, analogous in a way to Spokane in 1904, which was at the flourishing crossroads of the vast Inland Empire.

By 2000 the former glory of the Hall of the Doges was drastically eroded. The arches had been closed and covered with red flocked wallpaper; the room felt small and claustrophobic. The arms of the chandeliers had been stripped, the ceiling covered with grime, the oval painting severely abraded, and there was a gaping hole in one corner.