The Chamber of Commerce building was built just after the Great Spokane Fire of 1889, and the name was changed to Fernwell in 1893 after owners Rollin and Mary Hyde’s son died in infancy.
Most buildings in downtown Spokane followed the Chicago School of Architecture, where the lower one or two stories were clad in heavy pillars and arches, topped with less ornate upper stories and capped with a cornice adorned. The Fernwell Building had large storefronts at street level, suitable for displays of clothing and retail goods.
RJ Hurd & Company opened a proper men’s furniture store there in 1894. In 1925 they sold out to HH Hebert of Kemp & Hebert, another department store with a large men’s clothing section. The store was run under the Hurd name by Glen Pattee, who was heavily involved in local and national retail.
In 1933, Frederic Grant Emry bought the Hurd store and renamed it Emry’s.
Emry was born in Pleasant Plain, Iowa, and moved west to pursue business after graduating from the University of Iowa in 1902. Along with Harry R. Hibbs, he would eventually lead the Emry- Hibbs Clothing Company of Fort Collins, Colorado.
The Emrys attended their son Merle’s graduation from Stanford in 1929, then eventually moved to Palo Alto with their two daughters soon after. Merle’s marriage to Grace Humphrey, another Stanford student, occupied much of the Fort Collins society page in 1930.
After briefly owning a men’s clothing store in California, the Emrys moved to Spokane in 1933. They purchased the RJ Hurd clothing store at 503 W. Riverside Avenue in Spokane, changed the name, and operated Emry’s Clothiers, a high-end men’s store. Wife Eunice, son Merle and daughter-in-law Grace all served on the company’s board of directors.
Emry’s store said it sells Arrow shirts, Boston shoes, Dobbs hats and other national brands.
When Fred died in 1946, Merle became president of the company and continued to operate the store until 1951 when he sold the store to Herbert S. Howell, who also operated Brooks Men’s Department Store .
The location later became a Harvey’s Fine Clothing store, which closed in the mid-1990s.
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