The hotel located on the 1100 block of W. 1st Avenue has changed hands many times from when it was built in 1911. In 1911 the Single Residence Occupancy hotel, or SRO, was named the Willard Hotel. In 1921 the building changed hands and became the Atlantic Hotel. By 1941 the building was known as the Milner Hotel. In 1948 the Milner hotel became the Earle Hotel, and in 1956 the structure changed hands again to become the current Otis Hotel. Throughout the tumultuous initial semicentury, this hotel remained true to its SRO roots.
SRO hotels were very important to Spokane's economic development, providing workers with affordable housing and private lodgings. These hotels typically offered tenants a room to sleep in, usually with a closet and occasionally a sink. Tenants would share a communal restroom for the floor of residents. These hotels were innovative since they had only one tenant per room, which was common in luxury hotels of the time, however it was rare for working class hotels. These hotels, and the Otis is no exception, typically had retail space on the ground floors which helped them to maintain profitability during times of lean tenants.