The Montvale Hotel in Cupboards All Bared

The Montvale Hotel in Cupboards All Bared

The third major location featured in Cupboards All Bared is the Montvale Hotel.

The Montvale was built in 1899 by Probate Judge John Binkley as one of the first Single Room Occupancy hotels in Spokane. This means it was built for the laborers that were constantly in flux in Spokane, coming through to work on the railroad, for the sawmills, and other endeavors.

Binkley was praised as an “eminently public-spirited citizen, and one whose influence has been very sensibly felt in the development of the city” (Edwards, History of Spokane County).

The descriptions of the interior in Cupboards All Bared are inspired by articles from the time and photographs taken before it was updated. Today it is a beautiful boutique hotel that can still be visited in its original location, though the entrance and the interior have been greatly changed.

*The older images come from the Historic Listing for the Montvale which can be found online.

For example, the entrance in 1901 was off of Monroe, though now you enter through on First across from the Fox. You can still find the original entrance, which is now the back door, and they’ve removed the “Montvale” from over the lintel outside. Inside, however, the layout is pretty much exactly the same except for a few modern improvements, like personal bathrooms. In 1901, the Montvale had shared bathrooms. But you know what, I can share most of that through my book!

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Bernard took a step back to get a view of the building, noting the sign that read “MONTVALE HOTEL-APTS” and another that read “HOUSEKEEPING” in big, bold print. The Montvale Block was a beautiful three-story building of red brick on the corner of First and Monroe, the hotel apartments being on the second and third floors, while the first floor boasted five commercial spaces.
The brothers entered via the impressive brick archway off Monroe Street, with “Montvale” lettered above the double doors. They entered the building from this east side and went up a flight of grand stairs to the main lobby. Bright, natural light spilled upon them from a magnificent skylight above.
At the front desk, the manager who’d spoken to Bernard was retrieved. Mr. Myers agreed to allow them into Mr. Pavoni’s room, grabbing a room key from under the counter before leading them across the atrium lobby toward a second-floor corner room. Doors to rooms circled the central area. The staircase in the corner led up to a third floor with an overlook balcony so they could see the door of every room in the place by simply standing in the middle of the high-roofed atrium.
“The only way to access the residential second and third floors is the way you came in. It’d be difficult for someone to enter the hotel without the front desk’s notice,” Mr. Myers pointed out as they walked.
“Or vice versa, I would assume?” Bernard said.
Mr. Myers nodded. “That’s why I’m certain no one at the Montvale has seen Mr. Pavoni since Thursday. I asked the entire staff, just to be sure, after meeting with you.”
“Is there a doorman?” Bernard asked.
The manager shook his head. “No, but the front desk is always manned.”
“What if the clerk is called out on important business? Like a bathroom break?” Thomas asked, ever the realist.
Mr. Myers grimaced, either at the improper question or the suggestion that there was indeed a time someone could go in or out without notice, Bernard couldn’t tell.
“No,” Mr. Myers said adamantly. “If the desk is ever left unattended, the front door is locked from the inside. Only the staff have a key to that entrance.” He shook his own collection of keys to illustrate his point.…
“Downstairs is commercial only?” Bernard asked.
“Yes,” Mr. Myers answered easily, obviously eager to move off the lack of security in his hotel.
“And there’s two floors of rooms?”
“Yes. Sixty total, with thirty on this floor and thirty on the third floor.”
The manager knocked before unlocking number 206 and opening the door onto a small, simply furnished corner room. There was a bed and not much else, unless one counted the dresser with a mirror next to one of the windows, and an armless chair with a suitcase set atop the seat. The two windows looked out across First and Monroe, the Review Building just visible a couple blocks north.
“Shared washrooms?” Thomas asked.
“Common ones, yes, one for women and one for men on each floor. Each has two toilets and one bathtub, with hot and cold water provided at all times.” Mr. Myers seemed proud of this, and rightly so.
“Thank you,” said Bernard, leading the way in. “We won’t be but a moment.”
The manager took his cue, asked that they’d let him know should they find anything, and closed the door as he left.

From Cupboards All Bared by Patricia Meredith

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I had the honor of touring the Montvale so I could take photographs to inspire the scenes I wrote. Because I was allowed to see a corner room, I made it the same in the book, and I loved how out the window you could see the Spokesman-Review building, which would have been true in 1901, as well.

Want to keep reading? Pick up Cupboards All Bared!

In this sequel to Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Taker, we’re once again transported to Spokane, 1901. A body discovered in Hangman Creek looks to be the result of an accidental fall, but what begins as a “simple” mystery for Thomas Carew and his twin brother Bernard quickly becomes a lot more complicated, including implications that tie in with the bombings at the Idaho mines, and perhaps even President McKinley’s planned visit.

Cupboards All Bared is Book 2 in the Spokane Clock Tower Mysteries.

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