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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“I Was There!” – Janis Allen at the Crystal Ballroom, 1968

By History Department | October 13, 2022 |

  Over 100 years of history have granted the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon, with something of a mythology all its own. The Crystal’s psychedelic heyday in the late 1960s lives on in the fantastic, surreal murals throughout the Ballroom and the enduring musical influence of the classic bands who played there. It’s funny to…

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The Real Frankie Baker

By History Department | September 29, 2022 |

Frankie and Johnny were lovers O Lordy, how they could love Swore they’d be true to each other True as the stars up above He was her man But he done her wrong. – From the song, “Frankie and Johnny”   Frankie Baker sat by the window, playing a nonstop game of solitaire with a…

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12th Annual Running of the Brewers

By Word Bird | September 13, 2022 |

On September 8th, McMenamins brewery district managers arrived at Willamette Valley’s Sodbuster Farms as trucks overflowing with just-harvested Mosaic hops rolled in from the fields. 30- and 50-pound bags were packed, and the managers were off, racing to each of their breweries with the freshest of hops. Within minutes, these beautiful, fragrant Mosaics were added…

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The Desert Room’s Delight: Miss Toni Elling

By History Department | September 1, 2022 |

The Desert Room was one of the hottest nightclubs in Portland during the 1950s-60s. Today this space is occupied by Hal’s Café (formerly Zeus Café, 2011-2023) within McMenamins Crystal Hotel. If the walls could sing, they would belt out a tune for the vivacious entertainer, Toni Elling. She was a frequent performer in the Desert…

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Summertime at Edgefield Gardens: An Interview with Kim Kincaid, Garden Manager

By History Department | August 15, 2022 |

Kim Kincaid is the garden manager of McMenamins Edgefield. She has been here since the beginning in 1991, when this former Multnomah County Poor Farm was overgrown with weeds and brambles, like an abandoned castle in a fairytale. With painstaking patience, resourcefulness, and a deep well of creativity, Kim’s indelible green thumbprint can now be…

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Painting of US Senator Patty Murray by Carol Meckling

Senator Patty Murray, from Anderson School to D.C.

By History Department | July 5, 2022 |

This painting of US Senator Patty Murray by artist Carol Meckling is displayed at McMenamins Anderson School in Bothell, Washington, where there is also a guest room named in Senator Murray’s honor. This patriotic piece envisions Patty as Rosie the Riveter—the WWII icon that celebrates the power of women’s work and equality. Patty grew up…

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Julie Montaigne and the Barony Ball

By History Department | June 24, 2022 |

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…

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