The Windmill Buildings


Dreams and Hopes Dashed by the Depression

In February 19, 1929 The Cambern Brothers announced they would begin erecting a chain of Dutch stores throughout the city for the purpose of merchandising their bakery and dairy products.  They also planned to offer ice cream.

The design of these new stores was similar to buildings used by the Dutch chain in Los Angeles.  Establishment of their Dutch windmill stores was part of a $50,000 expansion program that had been recently announced by the four Cambern Brothers.  Charles Wood was the architect.

August 1927 Cambern had started making ice cream for Marr Stores, and the Piggly Wiggly chain.  On April 6, 1927 the Chronicle reported they had moved to their new ice cream plant at  2001 N Wall Street.

They took a 10 year lease on Liberty Candy plant  April 6, 1927 chronicle

On March 20th, 1929 the Cambern Brothers announced their first four new Spokane locations.    Dutch Windmill would now appear at 13th Avenue and Grand Boulevard,  Garland Avenue and Post Street, Howard Street, between Riverside Avenue and Main avenue, and Cedar Street, between 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue.

On September 9, 1930 the Cabern Brothers announced they would open a bakery in the old Table Rock grocery at 916 W Augusta Avenue.   Sept 9, 1930


They also announced they planned to add fifteen more stores to their chain.  They needed to float public stock to get the $50,000 they needed to expand.

 A list of their locations over the next two years below:

1623 W 1st Avenue in Browne's Addition

    1623 W 1st Avenue - Browne's Addition

350 Wall  Street

they plan to add twelve location/ with windmills (February 24, 1929)

Most of the locations have been announced....

116 N Howard  

11th Avenue and Perry  Steet

     11th Avenue and Perry Street

3rd Avenue and Cedar Street

914 W Augusta

823 W Garland

1222 S Grand

1711 N Hamilton

 320 E Sprague

5104 N Market

18123 E Appleway  Greenacres

     18123 E Appleway

Times are Changing

By now the customer base had changed.  The Marr Stores had exploded all over the west, Piggly Wiggly was now part of the Marr Stores.  The Depression had been six months old and there were now very aggressive Spokane competitors.   A very vicious Creamery War had started.  By May 29,1930 the local newspapers were filled with stories of how difficult it was to operate profitably.   

But on May 9, 1930 Cambern announced they were opening their 10th store with a 5 year lease on the southwest corner of Sprague and Washington . The total lease was $10,500. 

"The new shop will be called a Super Dutch Shop and will offer a Dutch lunch and soda fountain in addition to the creamery and bakery products.  A large windmill, trademark of the Dutch shops, is being erected on the top of the building."  "We expect to convert all of our stores into Super Dutch Stores".  said CM Cambern.  "Our business is steadily  increasing."


On February 16, 1933 the Spokane Daily Chronicle said:

"Misrepresentation and fraud in the sale of preferred stock in the Cambern Corporation to a group of investors is charged in eight civil lawsuits and a 9th amended complaint filed in Spokane Superior Court." 

"Damages asking $11,150 are asked."  

"The suits are directed against Cecil Cambern, Joseph Cambern, Kenneth McWilliams, and Charles Wood, architect  - all trustees of the Cambern Corporation."  "Included in the charges are charges that the company was insolvent and $50,000 in debt at the time the stock was sold in the spring of 1929."

Suit was first brought by Abe Mobley in September last year who wanted his $525 back for the stock he bought.

"Although the Mobley complaint was originally thrown out of court on a technicality, it has been refiled."

"In addition new suits were brought by Walter Smith for $535, JP Bond for $1,500, Carl Waldo for $1050, Jacob Hill for $1,875, CW Gilstrap for $325, Brain Smith for $600, William McDougal for $2250, and Mary Zilka for $2,400."

On Feb 16, 1933 the Cambern Brothers announced they were bankrupt.  The stockholders sued them for a return of their $11,000.

In 2024 there are still three windmill buildings left in Spokane, remnants of a lost memory of a bygone era.






















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