McMenamins proposes boutique hotel in North Portland
McMenamins is looking into the possibility of turning an old, burned-out Masonic lodge in North Portland into a boutique hotel.
Mount Hood Masonic Lodge No. 157 is at 5308 N. Commercial Ave., adjacent to McMenamins’ Chapel Pub. The company envisions joining the two properties by converting the paved parking lot between them into a lush garden with an outdoor spa, a garden bar and a sitting area.
Mario Espinosa, an architect with Ankrom Moisan Associated Architects, said the concept is subject to design review and public input. A pre-application conference is scheduled for April 11.
The 16,245-square-foot building was constructed in 1923 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was designed by Sutton and Whitney, a once notable Oregon architecture firm, and stands out in the neighborhood with a Colonial Revival-style brick facade. And like other McMenamins properties, its history has flair.
Tim Hills, McMenamins historian, said that in 1924 a local group staged a drama production at the building.
“Two of the actors in there went on to quite brighter careers after 1924: Clark Gable and the other was Mark Rothko, the artist,” Hills said.
The production was an adaptation of author Zona Gale’s 1920 novel “Miss Lulu Bett,” and the director was an actress named Josephine Dillon, Hills said.
“Later in 1924, she and Billy Gable – as he was known at the time – went down to Hollywood and got married, and he started going by his middle name and away they went,” he said.
Hills said another interesting historical tidbit is that one of the lodge’s founders, John Chambers, was the original owner of the funeral home (now the Chapel Pub) next door.
In 1982, vandals set fire to the lodge, and flames wreaked havoc throughout the interior. It has since sat vacant.
“But you can see the remnants of the grandeur that was there and these big, enormous spaces that were used for ceremonies and meetings,” Hills said.
In 2007, McMenamins purchased the property from Ethos Inc., a music education foundation, for $675,000. Prior to the recent recession, Ethos had hoped to make the temple its headquarters and turn the space into a teaching and performance venue.
Espinosa said the team wants to restore the building’s natural grandeur.
“The exterior is (planned) to be renovated and it’s pretty much going to keep its old beauty and clean it up and make it a little stronger,” Espinosa said.
Much of the charred remains would need to be removed, and the building would need a seismic upgrade, but McMenamins envisions a three-story, 46-room hotel. It would have a 974-square-foot venue, meeting and bar/pub space, as well as another small pub in the attic. The company would convert the basement into mechanical space and add showers and restrooms for guests using the spa.
Espinosa said the proposed hotel would essentially follow in the footsteps of the 51-room Crystal Hotel, a downtown Portland property that the company renovated last year. That hotel’s rooms highlight past performances in the building, and while Espinosa said the new hotel would also play up history, he did not know yet what that would look like.
Espinosa said he hopes the proposed plans will be well received and that he thinks it’s a sound way to preserve an ailing architectural landmark.
“We’re trying to save the building and not let it cave in on itself,” he said.
Via: DJC Oregon