The History of the 1950 Trent UFO Sighting in McMinnville, Oregon

By History Department | May 3, 2023 |

The very first McMenamins UFO Festival took place on May 11th, 2000 at Hotel Oregon in McMinnville, Oregon. Ufologist Dr. Bruce Maccabee, the expert on the Trent case, was invited as a guest speaker and presented on the famous UFO sighting by Paul and Evelyn Trent in 1950, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of…

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Jitney Dancing at the Hippodrome

By History Department | April 13, 2023 |

Like moths to a flame, the lights of the Hippodrome were irresistible to the people of Bend, Oregon, over a century ago. This painting by Jenny Joyce sets the lively scene, displayed at McMenamins Old St. Francis School. The original definition of “hippodrome” is an arena for horse chariot racing in ancient Greece. Over the…

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Walter Cole, aka: Darcelle

By Word Bird | March 29, 2023 |

Portland’s beloved, original drag queen superstar Darcelle passed away last week at the age of 92. Darcelle paved the way for generations of LGBTQ+ performers and activists and created a strong community that changed mainstream culture. Darcelle opened doors for public acceptance, respect and celebration of LGBTQ+ people everywhere. Her nightclub, Darcelle XV, opened in…

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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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