Historic Properties of Spokane
Architecturally significant as well as significant for its association with women's history in Spokane, the 1909 Marcus & Augusta Elias House is listed on the Spokane Register of Historic Places under both Category A & C as a property that embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type and period of construction, combining two styles of architecture and exemplifying a transitional time in Spokane’s vernacular architecture when Queen Anne Free Classic was fading from popularity and Craftsman was on the rise. The Elias House is most closely aligned with the Queen Anne Free Classic style, but includes some characteristics of the early Craftsman style in Spokane with its sleeping porches and simplified ornamentation. The Elias House mainly exhibits qualities of the Queen Anne Free Classic with its Classical columns, pedimented entryways, and large wrap-around porch. Under Category A, the Elias House was the epicenter of women’s gatherings: clubs, card parties, and other social events at a time when women’s activities were mostly confined to residences. Mother Augusta and daughters Elsa and Marguerite were frequent hosts in the Elias House, where they shared their love of entertaining alongside their business activities. The Elias family opened one of the first women’s and children’s “ready-to-wear” clothing stores - the Spokane Sample Store Co. when they relocated to Spokane in 1905. After that closed in late 1911, it reopened as the Ladies Specialty Shop a few months later, still an off-the-rack store for women. Both Elsa and Marguerite were employed in the family business as soon as they graduated high school, starting as bookkeepers and working their way up to clerks and managers. They ran the Ladies’ Specialty Shop until it closed in 1944.