Friday, August 04, 2006


I don't know if I've mentioned recently how much we love McMenamins. Not necessarily the beer, though it isn't bad. And they have a lot of pubs that aren't anything special. Just your typical pub. But they also have some really extraordinary properties that we adore! They buy properties that have often been neglected, some to the point of being condemned, and they renovate them. They make an effort to maintain some of the history of the place, but do it in a way that opens it to the public and makes it a great vacation destination, movie theater, or music venue.

We spent the first night of our honeymoon at Edgefield, so I'll start there. It was built in 1911, and for several decades was the Multnomah County Poor Farm. In 1962, it was renamed Edgefield Manor and for the last two decades of operation, functioned as a nursing home and eventually closed in 1982. McMenamins bought the property in 1990, and over the course of four years converted the condemned buildings and land into a European-style village, including lodging, a pub with a movie theater, a restaurant, a winery, a brewery, distillery, golf course, gardens, vineyards, artwork, etc. It's gorgeous and wonderful.

More recently Gregg and I took advantage of the Roy Gardner Great Train Escape Package, and took the train up to Centralia for a weekend to stay at the Olympic Club. Another very cool property. This one didn't require substantial renovation, although they've obviously added their own touch. Check out the very amazing faucet from the women's room. Several of the knobs and handles actually functioned. Flush the toilet, and water came out one of the faucets. They also added their usual murals and artwork throughout the building. But in fact the Pool hall has been in operation since 1908. In 1913 the Oxford Hotel opened, and I think it's also been open and running ever since. The place overflows with stories of 'bandits, bars and brothels'. In fact the deal we took advantage of was named after Roy Gardner, an outlaw who escaped federal marshals twice I think, and escaped from prison at least once more. I think he was actually re-captured finally at the Olympic Hotel. Pretty cool, huh?

The pool hall still has a bunch of antique pool tables, so putting beverages on the table (and other neglectful behaviour) is strictly prohibited. At the far end of the pool hall is a trap door, hidden under a floor mat, that opens to an underground passage leading from the pool hall to the train station. During prohibition this tunnel was used to smuggle booze. From what we saw in the two days we were there, Centralia doesn't have a whole lot going for it. But the Olympic club could entertain you for a whole weekend, with movies, great food, fantastic staff, and pool.

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