AKA: Court Hotel, Portland, OR

Structure Type: built works - dwellings -public accommodations - hotels

Designers: Whidden and Lewis, Architects (firm); Ion Lewis (architect); William Marcy Whidden (architect)

Dates: constructed 1882-1890, demolished 1951

8 stories

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SW 6th Avenue and SW Morrison Street
Downtown, Portland, OR 97205

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The Portland Hotel stood to the west of the Pioneer Courthouse on what is now Pioneer Courthouse Square.


This 8-story, 326-room hotel occupied the heart of Portland's Downtown for many years. It was built in two phases, the first begun by the Northern Pacific Railway President Henry Villard in 1882; Villard's fortunes eroded during the troubled economy of the mid-1880s, leaving him unable to complete his hotel project. A group of prominent Portland businessmen reopened the building campaign late in the 1880s, and spent about $1 million to complete it in 1890.

Building History

Located on the site of Portland's Central School, that was later moved one block north, the Portland Hotel was a downtown landmark for 61 years. Construction began on a grand central hotel in Portland in 1882 underwritten by the railroad tycoon, Henry Villard (1835-1900). Villard's fortune disappeared in the Depression of 1882-1885, and his funding for the hotel managed only to erect its foundations. The foundations lay fallow for five years before a sydicate of 150 local residents, including businessmen George B. Markle, Jr., Simeon Reed, Frank Dekum, William S. Ladd, Henry W. Corbett, and Henry Failing, pooled money to resume the building campaign in the late 1880s. They commissioned the new Portland architectural firm of Whidden and Lewis to design their hotel, that opened on 04/07/1890.

William Marcy Whidden worked for the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White in the early 1880s, when plans were prepared for Henry Villard. Whidden adapted these plans to suit leaders of the Portland syndicate that resumed the building process in 1889. Whidden called the style of his new hotel to be "'Old French with some modifications from the Dutch.'" (See Oregon Live.com, "The Portland Hotel: Once the place to see and be seen," published 04/02/2011, accessed 11/29/2018.

Owners of the Meier and Frank Department Store in Portland purchased the hotel in 1944, and operated it for about six years before shutting it down in 1950. The grand hotel was demolished the following year to make way for a two-floor parking garage for the Meier and Frank store. This parking lot was removed in 1981 when construction began on Courthouse Square, now occupying the site.

Building Notes

Two notes in the Sunday Oregonian newspaper of 11/06/1892 stated: "The Hotel Portland will make special rates to regular boarders. Mr. Barmore will take pleasure in waiting upon those seeking good quarters. The hotel will be kept upt the highest standards of excellence under the new management." The second notice read: "The Portland Hotel Pharmacy never close their place of business, They have been keeping open all night since May 1891." (See "City News in Brief," Sunday Oregonian, 11/06/1892, p. 5.)

Edward Boyce served as the President of the Portland Hotel Company in 1923. F.C. Harrington was the manager. At this time, the hotel operated a pharmacy, run by Raymond E. Taylor. (See Portland, Oregon, City Directory, 1923, p. 1281.)


A plan to add a 12-story hotel tower to the courtyard of the Portland Hotel #2 was proposed c. 1910 but never erected.


The Portland Hotel #2 was demolished in 08/1951.

PCAD id: 22288