The Pearl Townhouses began life as a rail yard freight house, a building where LCL (less-than-carload) lots were temporarily stored until being shipped or picked up. In a dispute with Union Station owner Edward Harriman, Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway (SP&S) owner James J. Hill converted one of his freight houses at the corner of NW 11th and Hoyt into a passenger depot. Known as "North Bank Station" it handled passenger trains until World War I and continued to handle intercity passenger trains until 1931.
Old photos show "North Bank Freight Depot" painted at the apex of the south-facing side. Between the windows was a black-on-white block of lettering:
Spokane, Portland & Seattle.
Oregon Trunk Railway.
Great Northern Railways.
Oregon Electric Ry. and United Railways.
It's all gone now, of course, except for a bit of the white background.
Above each loading dock bay is a number (even numbers - 2 through 16) identifying the dock number. While some have faded to near invisibility, some, such as the "16" at bottom, are still quite visible.
(Photo: Benjamin A. Gifford)