By Robert Singletary
| April 24, 2020 1:00 AM
William Dollar, a native of Ottawa, Canada, was one of the first experienced timber agents to take advantage of the timber boom that was occurring in northern Idaho during the early 1900s.
He arrived in Coeur d’Alene in 1899 and immediately began purchasing timberland for the Robbins Timber Company in Rhinelander, Wis. With financial backing from Wisconsin, Dollar formed the Coeur d’Alene Lumber Company on March 23, 1900. The company built a large sawmill near the base of Tubbs Hill and started operating on Dec. 4, 1901.
While the mill was under construction, Dollar could not help but notice the rapid growth of the town.
All kinds of businesses were already under construction and several others were in the planning stages. He also noticed the growing town did not have a bank. That was about to change.
Within a year, Dollar had sold his interest in the Coeur d’Alene Lumber Company, bought a piece of property on the southwest corner of Fourth and Sherman, built a two story brick building, and opened the Exchange National Bank, Coeur d’Alene’s first successful bank. Today, that same building is home to a business called the Vault. The old bank sign is still visible on the front of the building.
William Dollar was a very successful banker and businessman in Coeur d’Alene for many years. He is listed in the 1916 Polk City Directory as president of the Exchange National Bank, president of the Panhandle Brewery, secretary/treasurer of Stack-Gibbs Lumber Company, plus president of the Kootenai State Bank of St. Maries.
He was also a partner, along with Frederick Blackwell and Ambrose Betts, in financing and organizing the Coeur d’Alene-Spokane Electric Railroad, which ran from 1903 to 1940.
In 1906, William Dollar married Christine Playfair, also a native of Canada and a graduate of the University of Idaho. After an extensive honeymoon, the couple moved into their beautiful home at 816 Sherman Ave.
In 1917, the Dollars sold all their interests in Coeur d’Alene and moved to Vancouver, B.C. The Dollar House was sold to Addison A. Crane, president of the Exchange National Bank. He sold it to Oscar Edmunds, who lived there until 1960.
In 1962, one of the most beautiful houses in Coeur d’Alene was torn down and replaced by the Coeur d’Alene Professional Center.