Louis, Louis

Everybody’s heard of Crab Louis, but did you know that it’s supposed inventor was a successful restaurateur and later hotel owner in Spokane?

Yes, I’m talking about Louis Davenport.

Llewellyn “Louis” Davenport came to Spokane Falls in early 1889 at the age of 20 to work in his uncle’s restaurant. Just a few months later on August 4th, a fire wiped out 32 square blocks of the city, burning the restaurant with it. While locals called it “the most devastating fire that has occurred in the history of the world,” Davenport did not stay discouraged long. The following morning, he salvaged what he could from his uncle’s restaurant and opened “Davenport’s Waffle Foundry” in a tent-like structure amidst the rubble.

A year later, Davenport moved his restaurant to a brick building in the Wilson Block and renamed it “Davenport’s Restaurant.” The restaurant and it’s offerings continued to expand over the next several years. In 1903-1904, Davenport purchased the adjacent Bellevue Block, expanded “Davenport’s”, created a lavish ballroom, and turned the upstairs of the building into “The Pennington Hotel.” His menu offered over 100 items.

Davenport hired architect Kirtland Cutter to make his two buildings match. Cutter suggested a Mission-Revival style, which was vastly different from the other buildings in town.

Sources disagree on what exactly happened next, but in 1908 it was announced that a grand hotel would soon be built in Spokane Falls, and by 1912 the Davenport Hotel Company was formed. Cutter and his partner Karl Malmgren were selected to design the new building, and a grand, ornate structure was designed. Davenport didn’t want to spend unnecessary money on fancy ornamentation, and a simpler design was made. It cost about $2 million.

In 1912, buildings currently on the hotel site were demolished, and construction began the following year. Not a single worker was killed or seriously injured. Cutter and Davenport traveled the world, selecting only the finest furniture, rugs, and other decor.

When the Davenport Hotel opened September 1, 1914, it’s dining room featured fine art, Irish linens from Liddell, and a 15,000-piece set of Reed & Barton silverware, the largest private order created by the company.

The Davenport was considered one of America’s finest hotels. Looking through this brochure, it’s easy to see why.

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Engraved Handle

I’m not sure about the age of this spoon, or if it came from Louis Davenport’s restaurant or hotel, but it’s a silver-plated tea spoon from Reed & Barton in the double-stamped Belmont design.

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The design runs down the entire handle

Belmont was designed in 1906 by August Miller and was a popular choice for hotel silver. This particular piece has “Davenport’s” engraved in cursive on the handle. The back reads “Patent Approved for Reed & Barton B.P”. The Belmont design was still offered in 1908 where it appeared in the Reed & Barton catalogue. The price for a dozen spoons was either  $4.75 or $6.50 (about $110 or $150 today).

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Markings on back

I don’t know when the pattern was discontinued, but it’s possible that this piece was part of the 15,000 piece set first used in the hotel. At least, it’s fun to think so!

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Front of Spoon
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Back of Spoon

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Hydros Unlimited

Everybody who lives in the Seattle Area knows about the Unlimited Hydroplane races. They’ve been a staple at Seafair since its inception in 1950. What many don’t know is that the same hydroplanes made famous at Seafair also raced on Lake Chelan.

Don’t believe me?

Feast your eyes on this 1958 Apple Cup Race pin, starring Miss Chelan!

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Almost like the Ford Edsel, the Apple Cup Race lasted for only four years: 1957-1960. Stemming from the hydroplane craze brought to the region by Seafair, and happening in conjunction with the Apple Blossom Festival, the first Apple Cup Race was held May 5, 1957. The hydroplanes competing in the first race, in the winning order, were:

U-12 Maverick

U-77 Miss Wahoo

U-28 Shanty I

U-8 Hawaii Kai III

U-27 Miss Seattle

U-4 Miss Bardahl

U-60 Miss Thriftway

U- 19 Miss Rocket

U-62 Thriftway Too

The second Apple cup was held May 11, 1958, and featured 11 hydroplanes, two more than the previous year. Only five hydroplanes were repeats: Miss Seattle, Miss Thriftway, Thriftway Too, Maverick, and Miss Bardahl (who took first place). The prize was $1,500, which is equivalent to about $12,500 today.

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12 hydroplanes competed at the third Apple Cup Race on May 10, 1959, many of them the same hydros that raced the previous year. Miss Pay n’ Save, who had placed #10 in 1958, took first place, followed by Miss Bardahl and Miss Thriftway.

The final Apple Cup was held May 8,1960 and hosted 11 competitors. Miss Thriftway was the race’s winner, followed by Nitrogen and Miss Burien. Rising sponsor’s costs and crowd control problems contributed to the race’s cancellation.

Although the Apple Cup is now just a name of a Chelan cafe, vintage hydroplanes have returned to Chelan the first weekend in October for the last seven years for the Mahogany & Merlot event.

Interestingly, the hydroplane featured on the pin, U-97 Miss Chelan, is fictitious. She never raced in the Apple Cup and, in fact, never even existed.

The Apple Cup Race was important enough to be broadcasted on Seattle television! Clips from the 1957 and 1958 races can be viewed on YouTube. For detailed race summaries, visit this link.