Spokane Journal of Business

Womer purchases historic Telegraph building downtown

Architecture firm moves to top floor of historic downtown structure

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Womer & Associates Inc. has purchased the historic Home Telephone & Telegraph Co. Building at 165 S. Howard, where the Spokane-based architectural company now occupies the top floor, says principal Nima Motahari.

The $1.9 million acquisition of the two-story structure was completed on Sept. 13, he says. Womer & Associates purchased the Telegraph building from Howard Project LLC, which is owned by real estate developer, Jordan Tampien. 

The property was listed for sale by Spokane-based Tampien Brothers LLC, which does business as 4 Degrees Real Estate. 

Womer & Associates, a Native American-owned design company, had earlier remodeled the second floor of the 20,000-square-foot building when it was owned by JoAnn Kauffman, of Kauffman & Associates Inc., a Native American- and woman-owned management consulting firm.

“I called JoAnn and said, ‘we kind of bought your old building,’” says Motahari. “She was really happy. She said, ‘I like the fact that it’s gone from one Native company to another Native company.’”

Kauffman & Associates began to work remotely at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Kauffman sold the building in 2021, Motahari says.

Womer & Associates will continue leasing the first floor and basement to its current tenants, says Motahari. The first floor is leased by Spokane-based Workspace Development LLC, which does business as OpenSquare, a furniture design company. The basement, which has a commercial-grade kitchen, is occupied by Spokane-based baker Scone Ranger Inc.

Because of the building’s historic designation, Motahari says Womer & Associates is prohibited from making changes to the exterior facing Howard Street, however, it can make changes to the north side, which is facing Second Avenue.

“This building used to be where people would come, put their horses outside, and then come inside and send a telegram,” he says.

The Telegraph Building, as it’s commonly referred to, is one of the city’s first telephone communication centers, according to the Spokane City-County Historic Preservation Office. 

The concrete-and-brick masonry structure was built in 1907 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in August 2003 for its contribution to the development of the telecommunications industry here.

Womer & Associates was established in 1992 and provides planning, architectural, and engineering services for commercial construction projects. The company has about 30 employees and four principals. 

Previously, Womer & Associates leased the top floor of the Old City Hall building at 221 N. Wall, in downtown Spokane.

Karina Elias
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Reporter Karina Elias covers the banking and finance industry. A California native, she attended the University of California at Santa Barbara. Karina loves salsa dancing, traveling, baking, cuddling with her dog, and writing creative fiction and non-fiction.  

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