Thursday, April 9, 2015

Rediscovering why I was out and about, thanks to several photos that I took.


Paul Mitchell School, downtown Portland, seen when I was out and about on November, 19, 2010. Wonder what I was doing downtown after dark? I remember walking along, seeing this through the window and taking photos, but I don't know why I was out and about.


Looking at the other photos that I took that evening, I remembered why I was out and about. I had read about The Original Dinerant in the paper, decided to check it out. The food was good, especially for a happy hour menu, and priced right. However, I've not been back but a few times since then, mainly because I now live within walking distance of my local bar The Blue Diamond where the food is great and affordable, the service fantastic, all brought to you by real people who are great human beings. Nothing against anyone at The Original, but it's not within walking distance.


Here's the reason that I walked up SW Oak from The Original. I wanted to get a night photo of the Benson Hotel. On our first visit to Portland, summer 2004, Mama and I stayed here, so the place is special to me; my younger son Leland worked there as a line/prep cook which adds to my personal special factor. I got a great photo that night before walking on up SW Oak and catching a bus back home.

Here's what I found at the Oregon Encyclopedia about the hotel back in 2010 when I went online:

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.


William Kendall said...

The Benson lit up like that really is beautiful!

Randy said...

That's a big hair-do in the first shot.