The Daffodil Festival in Tacoma

By History Department | March 23, 2023 |

Spring has sprung! This cheery painting of Tacoma’s Daffodil Festival by artist Mary Mann is displayed at McMenamins Elks Temple. This year marks the 90th year of the parade and on April 1st, the Tacoma Daffodil Parade starts just blocks away from Elks Temple. Making up the painting’s border are images inspired by the earliest…

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The Amazing Life of Hugh O’Kane

By History Department | March 17, 2023 |

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend, Oregon has a pub named after Hugh O’Kane, a daring Irishman with a life story so unbelievable, it could be a blockbuster movie. O’Kane was born in 1854 at Bushmills, County Antrim, Ireland, just around the corner from the Bushmills Distillery. As a youngster,…

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The Artist Behind the Menus: Lillian Ripley

By Word Bird | March 2, 2023 |

You sink into a booth, ready for something delicious, but what? A riot of color catches your eye, decadent cocktails nearly tumble from the page. A drizzle of cherry juice schusses down a mountain of whipped cream. You know exactly what to order. Artist Lillian Ripley is the mastermind behind the intricate, beautiful menus you’ve…

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“You Can’t Have a Bad Time When Drag Queens Are Around”

By Word Bird | February 23, 2023 |

A Brief History of Poison Waters Poison Waters is first and foremost an entertainer. Her whip smart humor fuels the side-splitting laughter of her audiences. But she’s also wise, an advocate for many and specifically for Black and LGBTQ+ rights, dispensing advice like, “The Three E’s: Entertain, Educate and Embrace Differences, because everybody we come…

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The Roots, the Crystal Ballroom, and the James Brown Connection

By History Department | February 9, 2023 |

The Roots are playing McMenamins Crystal Ballroom in Portland on February 21st. Can you believe it? It’s nothing short of magical when such a wildly popular and acclaimed band plays the Crystal. Compared with larger stages, such as Edgefield’s outdoor amphitheater (which the Roots played in 2019), the experience of seeing a huge artist in…

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George Washington: African American Pioneer and Founder of Centralia

By History Department | February 2, 2023 |

Everyone knows George Washington, founding father and first president of the United States. But this is the story of another George Washington, a former Black slave and trailblazing pioneer who, in 1875, overcame incredible obstacles to become the founding father of Centralia, Washington—the largest city founded by an African American of the era. George was…

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The Story of “Louie Louie” – Part II

By History Department | January 10, 2023 |

The first part of our dive into the song, “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen (recorded next to the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, OR) was the infamous story of the FBI investigation into the lyrics of this rock & roll hit from 1963. Dig a little deeper, and there’s even more drama to uncover. After the…

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Bring Your Own Story: The BYO Storytelling Show at Al’s Den, Hosted by Jay Flewelling

By History Department | December 27, 2022 |

“I want a poignant moment, or a heartfelt substance, in a sea of laughs,” says Jay Flewelling, host of the BYO Storytelling Show at Al’s Den, the basement venue within McMenamins Crystal Hotel, in downtown Portland. Every first Wednesday of the month, Jay selects a talented array of comedic performers to tell their personal, true,…

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In Memory of Lyle Hehn

By Word Bird | December 12, 2022 |

Lyle Hehn 1958 – 2022 If you know Hammerhead and Ruby, you know Lyle Hehn. If you’ve seen the Satin the Cat, myriad jesters, or most of our beer labels, you are familiar with Lyle. If you’ve met Lola Baldwin or Umbrella Jimmy, you’ve met Lyle. Lyle was an artist for McMenamins until his death…

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The Story of “Louie Louie” – Part I

By History Department | December 1, 2022 |

McMenamins Crystal Hotel is filled with imaginative artwork that brings to life musicians who performed on stage at the Crystal Ballroom in downtown Portland over the last century. The story behind this painting by Jonathan Case is one of the most notorious tales of rock & roll history. If you’ve never heard the Kingsmen’s song,…

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