A Contemporary Renovation Rooted in the History of the Pacific Northwest

Hear about the fascinating journey of crafting the brewery’s refreshed interior, weaving classic aesthetics with a fresh twist.

By Brandi Koloski

Photography by Ryan Vesely, Wild Lanterns

Restaurant bar with black Sadie II Barstools.

A historic gem of the Pacific Northwest, The United Building is more than a charming building — it's a dynamic modern-day food hall that serves as a gathering point for the community in Spokane, WA. Featuring a captivating blend of nostalgic history and modern freshness, the transformed building is home to a diverse array of businesses, from a board game shop and toy store on the second floor to a restaurant, coffee shop, and brewery on the first floor.

Among the occupants,  Bellwether Brewing has made The United the home of its second taproom. As a family-owned brewery with two locations in Spokane, WA, Bellwether is committed to crafting quality brews while remaining rooted in the essence of their Pacific Northwest home. They go the extra mile to source local, high-quality ingredients, often embracing the art of foraging. Their love for the community drives their dedication to quality service.

Behind this enchanting blend of tradition and innovation is Bri Musser, a seasoned interior designer and co-owner of Bellwether Brewing, alongside her husband. Bri shares the fascinating journey of crafting the brewery's interior, weaving classic aesthetics with a fresh twist during the renovation of their second location.

Interior Designer Turned Entrepreneur

Bri Musser, a seasoned interior designer with over a decade of experience, brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. After spending years working for a design firm, she embarked on her own design venture with the inception of By Three Interior Design, coinciding with the acquisition of The United Building — a historical 1920s Beaux Arts structure. Bri's passion for interior design and her deep understanding of spaces served as a guiding force throughout this endeavor, resulting in a beautifully blended space that seamlessly captures the charm of the past while radiating the vibrancy of the present.

Modern Design United With Historic Charm

When you enter The United Building, a unique blend of history and contemporary style envelops you. Steeped in history dating back to the 1920s, The United Building, historically known as United Hillyard Bank Building, is listed on both local and national historic registers. Eager to honor the building's legacy, Bri set out to restore its former glory while infusing modern functionality. The architectural details had been covered up for years, but Bri's goal was to revive the original character of the space. The building's exterior, adorned with captivating plasterwork featuring the UHB (United Hillyard Bank) insignia, creates a memorable first impression, and the interior boasts intricate trim, molding, and wainscoting elements. This blend of historic character and contemporary functionality became the foundation for selecting the perfect furnishings.

Selecting the Right Pieces

Integrating perfectly harmonizing elements was pivotal in shaping the interior design of Bellwether Brewing. Bri envisioned furnishings that not only encapsulated modern sensibilities but also contributed essential contemporary nuances. Working with Katrina Baumgartner, NCIDQ of Freeform Spaces, a Grand Rapids Chair dealer in Spokane, Bri selected the Sadie II Chair and Barstool which stood out as a prime example, contributing classic and contemporary aesthetics to the space. The Hurdle Barstools, characterized by their playful curves, served as an ideal match for the space's coffee bar, a nod to the building's 1920s heritage.

A Vault of Stories

One of the space's most captivating elements is the vault door, a relic from the building's past as a bank. While the original vault itself was dismantled to optimize the space, the vault door remained, acting as a historical touchpoint and a conversation starter. Restored to its former glory, the vault door now serves as a stunning statement piece, evoking nostalgia for the neighborhood's residents who recall the bank's earlier days. This attention to preserving historical elements resonates with Bri's commitment to honoring the building's past while breathing new life into it.

The United Building project was not just a design endeavor for Bri; it was a deeply sentimental and collaborative experience. Working alongside her father, who managed the construction, added a unique layer to the project. The journey from concept to reality was a labor of love, filled with challenges and triumphant moments that underscored the special nature of the project.

The United Building is a space that blends the charm of its historic roots with the fresh breath that is modern design. Bri's meticulous planning, the careful selection of furniture, and preservation of historical elements have resulted in an environment that offers a fresh breath of contemporary comfort while paying homage to its storied past. As the building continues to delight its guests, it promises to be a place where patrons can partake in different activities from shopping to dining and drinking, but also experience the rich history and artistic vision that brought this space to life.