Julie Montaigne and the Barony Ball

Happy Pride Month! To celebrate, we spotlight the Barony Ball, a drag queen pageant that was a groundbreaking event for the LGBTQ+ community in Tacoma, WA, from 1975-1985. It was held in the grand spaces of what is now McMenamins Tacoma Elks. These days, all visitors are welcome and encouraged to peruse artwork, photos and…

Read More

Happy May Day!

Happy May Day! For years, a tradition for Portland-area schools was to celebrate the arrival of spring with a Maypole dance. The first held at Kennedy Elementary School (now McMenamins Kennedy School) was in the spring of 1916, as part of the dedication ceremony for Kennedy’s new permanent school building. McMenamins revived the Maypole tradition…

Read More

The Roses of the Cotillion

“They were cultivating us to be the kind of women that they wanted us to be, not just as women but as community leaders, community organizers, as people who would carry on the torch.” – Crystal Wright, Red Rose Cotillion debutante of 1975 The Unique Social and Community Club was founded in 1963 by a…

Read More

The Brandos in Kalama

The Brandos

While few can likely relate to the turbulent ups and downs of the famous Brando family, every one of us understands the desire for a friendly place where we can escape from real life, even if just for a short while. Incredibly, for legendary actor Marlon Brando and eldest son Christian Brando, that place was…

Read More

An Extraordinary Existence

George Putnam Riley

George Putnam Riley was a brilliant activist, orator and lifetime barber lived an extraordinary existence during a pivotal time in American history, during the second half of the nineteenth century. His formative years were shaped by his East Coast upbringing, but his true character came from his life experiences on the Pacific Coast. The African-American…

Read More

Modern Dance Pioneer Bonnie Bird

Bonnie Bird

She was many things: an accomplished performer, revered instructor, passionate political activist and loving wife and mother. Bonnie Bird also was a Bothell, Washington, resident into the 1930s, while the rest of her family continued to live there into the ’50s. Bonnie was born in Portland in 1914 and spent most of her childhood in…

Read More

Fallen Women, a Dashing Aviator, a Monkey, & Massage

The Cedars In 1917, a detention home for “fallen women” called The Cedars was built to the north of Edgefield, under the stewardship of Lola Baldwin, Portland’s first policewoman and namesake of our Lola’s Room at the Crystal Ballroom. Press clippings trumpeted The Cedars as a “refuge for diseased women.” Yet the concern wasn’t actually…

Read More

A New Painting by Kolieha Bush

Kolieha Bush

Art and write-up by McMenamins artist Kolieha Bush My trip to the White Bird Clinic was an inspiring and eye-opening experience. I’ve known of White Bird since the late 1970s as the medical and first aid booth at the Oregon Country Fair each year. I also saw them providing their services during the Further Festival…

Read More

The Story of Dorothy Mason Brown

Dorothy Mason Brown

“She was religious, very active, very community oriented, always wanted to work to make the community better. She was a do-er, a helper, a supporter. I think at an early age, she had made up her mind that she was going to make a difference. And that’s what she did.” – Dr. Betty Cobbs, daughter…

Read More

Lumberman Willard Case of Kalama

Willard Case

As 1908 came to a close, veteran lumberman Willard Case ushered in the first railroad logging operation at Kalama. Case had been in the lumber business for nearly two decades by this point, but was relatively new to this area. He hailed from the Old Northwest Territory – born in Ohio and raised in Missouri…

Read More