Whimsical Meets Historic: the Famous Circus Room

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March 30, 2020 | General

Meet Harper Joy: the man behind our lively Circus Room.

A Circus Room? In the Historic Davenport Hotel, you say? Why yes – let us tell you the story.

A Walla Walla native, Harper Joy relocated to Spokane in 1926. This was followed by an abrupt chasing of his dreams, in which Joy “ran away” with a circus for three weeks.

This became an annual happening, in which it became tradition for Joy to join the circus for a few weeks every summer. But Joy wasn’t the only circus fan in Spokane. It so happens to be that Louis Davenport himself, a fellow friend of Joy’s, also had a fascination for the lively form of entertainment.

And that’s where the Circus Room comes into play: Davenport wanted to surprise Joy with a dedicated room that reflected his whimsical work upon his retirement. Nestled in our Historic Hotel on the seventh floor, this guest-favorite room, #708, is the only surviving original guestroom in The Historic Davenport Hotel.

The artistic conversion took place in 1935, when it was painted in the theme of a ‘Circus Room’ by A. Rutgers VanderLoeff and associates. All of the characters in the Circus Room are friends and contemporaries of Mr. Joy, including at the head of the parade, Fred Bradna, the Equestrian Director and Ringleader of the Circus (Harper’s boss). On the north wall, Buffalo Bill Cody, and near the window, Louis Davenport himself.

VanderLoeff included unexpected features, such as carpet tacks to create a horse’s bridle and small pieces of welders brazing rods to form a cage for leopards. Remarkably, the mural is said to be sculpted from a roll of cardboard.

During the 2000-2002 restoration of The Davenport Hotel, new owners, Walt and Karen Worthy’s figures were also added to the mural. The Circus Room is now furnished with 2 King Beds and a bathroom with a shower.

Step right up and see the greatest spectacle on earth: the only, the only, the Circus Room.

Davenport Blog

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