Posts by Tim Hills

“A FAMILY, A FAIR” : A Piece by Joe Cotter, 2010

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photoNote: Local artist and beloved McMenamins contributor Joe Cotter passed away on Saturday, March 31, 2012. This is the first post in honor of his lovely, magical artwork that can be found throughout McMenamins’ establishments. We have lost a friend and one of the color masters of the company. Cheers, Joe.
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Joe Cotter has long been at the fore of artistic pursuits in Oregon. And it’s been McMenamins’ good fortune that, for several decades, Joe and his wife, Kolieha Bush – also an artist of remarkable talents – have done exceptional pieces throughout the McMenamins’ Kingdom. This mesmerizing painting by Joe celebrates the Oregon Country Fair, which rises every year outside of Eugene, in the rural town of Veneta.

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Portland Jazz Legend Charlie Gabriel Returns April 7

photoDuring the 1960s, Charlie Gabriel made a name for himself at the helm of the house band at the Desert Room, a nightclub on the very site of what is now the Crystal Hotel.

Now, forty years later, Gabriel is returning to his old stomping grounds, as a member of New Orleans’ famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who take the stage at the Crystal Ballroom on Thursday, April 7.

Gabriel will return again for the grand three-day celebration of the opening of the Crystal Hotel. The jazzman will join the Mel Brown Band on May 3-5 in Al’s Den, another historic venue located in the Hotel.

Gabriel’s return isn’t just a reunion; it’s the bookend of a long and fascinating tale, a snapshot of history. Here’s the story, courtesy of McMenamins historian Tim Hills:

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Olevia Ireland: Crystal Ballroom and Hotel Oregon

McMenamins artist Lyle Hehn’s sweet depiction of Olevia Ireland’s Dancing Academy features fun characters from Hotel Oregon’s past as well as that of the Crystal Ballroom, since the delightful Miss Ireland graced both places over her career.

Irelands Dancing Academy art by Lyle HehnMiss Olevia Ireland arrived in Portland around 1909 and first worked as an actress. By 1913, she had given up the theater, taking a position as a dance instructor at Montrose Ringler’s Dreamland Academy (located at SW 2nd and Morrison). Miss Ireland and fellow Dreamland instructor, Norman Whiting, gave exhibition dances together as partners on various stages around the city.  Ireland and Whiting were among those who introduced to Portland the Tango, Hesitation Waltz and One-Step.

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An Olympic Club Reunion

In the early 1970s, the reunion at Centralia of two talented friends fueled a wellspring of creative energy that resulted in intimate, unapologetic portrayals of two infamous Centralia subjects steeped in secrecy and intrigue– the 1919 Armistice Day Tragedy and the Olympic Club.

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First History Blog

Welcome to the cyber catacombs of McMenamins history. It’s a wondrous, multi-layered and lyrical realm brimming with life, from the day-to-day to the extraordinary.   

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