Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Downtown Portland's Benson Hotel, one of A. E. Doyle's buildings

Mama's doing OK, not great, but OK. Thanks to everyone for the prayers.

On our first visit to Portland, summer 2006, Mama and I stayed here. We loved every second of it. I took this photo the evening of November 19, 2010.

Here's what I found at the Oregon Encyclopedia about the hotel:

The Benson Hotel, built in Portland by pioneer lumberman Simon Benson in 1913, was constructed as an annex to the adjacent Oregon Hotel to the south. It was originally called the New Oregon Hotel. Soon after it opened, however, it became known as the Benson. The older hotel was demolished in 1959 to make way for a new addition.

Conceived as a high-end hotel in downtown Portland, the Benson was designed by architect A.E. Doyle, who modeled it after the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago. Doyle's design used the elements of the Baroque Revival Style in a grand manner, sheathing the twelve-story building in red brick and cream-colored, glazed terra cotta.

The massive mansard roof is covered in copper and green terra cotta and pierced with pediment dormers. (My photo, taken August 5, 2010, during the Architectural Heritage Center Downtown Terra Cotta Walk. Near as I can tell, the golden sphere rests inside a vase-like depression and is held in place by a scroll-like shape. I was wishing for a gargoyle.)

The interior also displayed an opulent touch. The lobby featured rare Circassian walnut woodwork from Russia, Italian marble floors, and Austrian crystal chandeliers. The ceiling was punctuated with ornate plaster designs of acanthus, rosettes, egg-and-dart, and other classical motifs. Noted lighting designer Fred Baker created the lighting fixtures for the interior. The Benson Hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

The $1 million, 200-room hotel boasted the latest in modern conveniences, including private baths, automatic door switches, electric lights, and telephones in each room. The hotel has been well maintained over the years, receiving a thorough rehabilitation in 1991. The Benson Hotel has always sought to attract a high-end clientele, which included show business celebrities, business leaders, politicians, and many U.S. presidents.

Simon Benson (1852-1942) gradually accumulated a fortune in the timber business, shipping large quantities of lumber to southern California to supply a building boom in the early years of the twentieth century. He sold his holdings in 1910, invested in real estate, and built the hotel that bears his name.

Written by William F. Willingham

And this is from Wikipedia:

The Benson Hotel is a 287 room historic hotel building in downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. It is owned and operated by Coast Hotels & Resorts. It was originally known as the New Oregon Hotel, and is commonly known as "The Benson." It has a reputation as one of Portland's finest hotels. The hotel is named after notable businessman and philanthropist Simon Benson.

Simon Benson had wished to build a world-class hotel in Portland. During the population boom that occurred between the 1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition and the Great Depression, Benson fulfilled his wish.

The firm of Doyle, Patterson, and Beach designed the main hotel building in French Second Empire style. The hotel opened 1912 and Chicago's Blackstone Hotel served as the inspiration of the building's overall design. The building was originally an annex to the Oregon Hotel, and was known as the New Oregon Hotel.

In 1959, the old Oregon Hotel next door was demolished to, ironically, make way for a 175 room annex to the 1912 building. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.


Best of Blogs Portland said...

Interesting blog! I've included it on a site I've created, which is a compilation of some of the best blogs in the city.

Jack said...

Very nice, Lynette. Night photographs like this are tough for me to do. You nailed it.

Lois said...

I love old hotels and this one is a beauty! I was at the Blackstone in Chicago last year and it does look very similar.

Jacob said...

A very nice night shot, Lynette. And I can see why you "loved" staying at this hotel...it's quite beautiful.

Sorry to hear that your mother is ill...she'll be in our thoughts in the days ahead...

Steve Scauzillo said...

This looks like the kind of hotel I would love. Great shot.