The History Of The Joel Building

SPOKANE — The Joel Building was constructed in 1899 and remains on The National Historic Register because of its rare architecture warehouse design.

Cutter and Malmgren are considered Spokane’s most celebrated architectural firm and they originally designed the building for the Boothe-Powell Company, wholesale grocers for $8000.

Boothe-Powell remained in the building until 1906; other tenants of the building include the Seattle Brewing Company and the Matthews Electro-Kold Corporation who were pioneers in refrigeration technology.

While General Electric credits itself as the producer of the first domestic electric refrigerator, Electro-Kold’s refrigerator preceded G.E’s by several years.

In 1967, Joel Ferris remodeled the old warehouse on Second and Post and turned it into Joel’s Furniture. Over the course of 55 years in business the store built a reputation as the go-to place for upscale furnishings and gifts.

Eventually, the store was passed on to two of Ferris’ sons, Joel Ferris Jr. and his brother, Toby. Their father, a nephew of Spokane business pioneer Joel E. Ferris, died in 2002.

In 2005 Joel’s closed it’s doors. Ferris closed the furniture story for a variety of factors including competition from River Park Square and large national chains, online and catalog shopping, and the tough economy of 2001, including the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The closure of portions of Post Street in 2001 and 2003 for enhancements and to convert it to a two-way street also contributed to the closure.

The building at 165 S. Post comprises 43,000 square feet, including the basement. A portion of the building is currently owned by Dorian Studio, which has been in the building since 1971. Dorian Studio is known throughout the Spokane area for their photographers’ work in shooting pictures at local school dances as well as sports and senior portraits.

The building is also home to Churchill’s Steakhouse, one of the high end restaurants in the Spokane area. 

The upstairs portion of building recently had been turned into 16 condominiums which were scheduled to open at the end of the month. The ‘Lofts at Joel’ were being built by Spokane developer Ron Wells.