Heraldic Emblems

Among the most admired and least understood aspects of the decorative plasterwork in the Davenport Hotel are the heraldic devices on the beams of the Lobby and over the crowns of the elevators of the main floor. All of the shields throughout the hotel originate in history, although they have been redesigned and thinly disguised for a traveler’s fantasy.

The Davenport’s architectural decorations depict adventure, trade and commerce, evoking comparisons with the great trading empires of the ancient world, one following upon another. Drawing us through the kingdoms of the European Renaissance, they then transport us from there to the New World, where we eventually end up in the Inland Northwest. Clearly, the investors and developers of the Davenport Hotel saw themselves as the heirs of this historical swell. Although little more than a nod has been paid to the decorative shields themselves, much has been written about the reason for choosing the Hotel’s Florentine facade and the overall scheme of the public rooms.

If we now take into consideration the wonderful Northwest, in which this Hotel is located, with its marvelous crops and fabulous mines; if we keep in mind the type of progressive citizens that go to make up its life, coming as they do from all corners of the globe; if we contemplate the splendid courage and commendable public spirit of those who erected this magnificent hostelry: — and if we, then, hark back to the Florence of the past with its wealthy Burghers, and compare it with the Spokane of the present and its successful pioneers, — we are certain to feel how fitting it is that the exterior of this Hotel should have been patterned after the Florentine style. (Davenport Hotel, Spokane, U.S.A. : the pride of an empire : one of America’s exceptional hotels, W.K. Shissler, 1915)

The shield pictured above comes from an elevator crown on the main floor and is a reworked version of the heraldic emblem of the united Spanish kingdoms of Castilla y León (meaning “Castle and Lion,” although the name León seems to have come from the Latin word for “Legion” ). The actual coat of arms depicts a castle with its three towers, rather than a single tower, in opposite quadrants, as well as a rampant lion in the other two opposing quadrants. The Visigothic queen, Isabela II of Castilla, inherited that original coat of arms before her marriage to Fernando (Ferdinand) of Aragón, which then united their kingdoms, as well. Although these symbols are common throughout Europe, it is the arrangement of them in the design that evokes memories of the kingdom of Castilla y León (Castile and León).

Coat of Arms of the Catholic Monarchs, 1492-1504.

“… las armas de Castilla y León pasan en primer lugar. 1 y 4 cuartelado de Castilla y León, 2, 3 partido de Aragón y Aragón-Sicilia, soportado por el águila de San Juan y timbrado con una corona real abierta.”

English: The quartered arms of Castilla and León appear in the first and third quadrant of the escutcheon. The arms of Aragón and Aragón-Sicily appear in the second and third quarters. The arms are supported by the eagle of St. John and topped by an open royal crown.

Source: Menéndez-Pidal De Navascués, Faustino; El escudo; Menéndez-Pidal y Navascués, Faustino; O´Donnell, Hugo; Lolo, Begoña. Símbolos de España. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, 1999. ISBN 84-259-1074-9, pp. 175,176. From Wikimedia Commons ((es)).

We are presently designing a brochure to cover more of these fascinating architectural decorations and the Hotel’s 2002 renovation. Please check back for updates.

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