Hotel Lincoln – The Electric Hotel

by Cassie Nixon

“When you can sit outside on a hot summer day and watch the children out and about without adults watching over them, it really speaks to the integrity of the community,” Karen Allen says of the town of Harrington. She and her husband, Jerry, are residents of Medical Lake but have been drawn to small town communities for many years. In 2008, they suffered a family tragedy when Karen’s uncle was a victim of murder in Spokane. This really was the impetus for Karen to start looking more closely at Harrington, and in 2009 she, Jerry and partner, Archie Staley, bought the historic Hotel Lincoln, the Electric Hotel. They nominated the building for the local, state and National Register of Historic places with the goal of preserving and restoring this 1902 single room occupancy hotel. Because it is a rural property, banks are reluctant to loan money to restore the building. Traditional financing was not an option, however, they continue to pour out their hearts and souls in sweat equity.

Hotel Lincoln - the Electric Hotel
photo by Geoffrey Talkington

At their drawing board, they had considered whether to restore the building and turn the rooms into apartments, but in the end, restoring it to the historic hotel was the winning economic development plan. Their focus has been to preserve the brickwork and as much of the original integrity as possible. It has received a new roof and commercial gutter, the brick parapet wall has been rebuilt, structural work is done in two thirds of the building, (south and center) and structural yet to be done is the north 1/3 of the Hotel.  The main floor double hung windows were replaced and the original Queen Anne windows were completely restored. There are 71 windows in the entire building in various states of disrepair. The Allen’s along with their fiscal sponsor, Institute for Washington’s Future, have been fundraising to replace as many of the windows as they can.  They are also restoring the doors, woodwork and finishing the remaining structural work. 

Karen has been working with a preservation-oriented architect in Spokane to complete the storefront design. The engineer on the building is from the Gonzaga school of engineering. Recently, the most exciting development, visible to the public eye, has been the beautiful restoration of the Electric Hotel neon sign on the building front. Local artist and farmer, Leslie LePere suggested Ritzville resident John Rankin to do the sign, as he has been involved in doing restoration work for many years. It took a few months, but John was able to come through to get it finished. It can now it can be seen lit up as you drive through town after dark. 

Harrington residents have been so pleased to have watched the transformation of this historical building thus far and continue to look forward to its eventual completion. Karen invites folks to come down and say “Hi” while they are on site working and she will offer tours occasionally as they make progress on the project. They are excited to be a part of Cruizin’ Harrington this Saturday and will have an open house from 9-3pm. This will include last year’s vendors and additional art and musical entertainment in the Hotel Lobby.