My American Road Trip, Part 7: Rediscovering the Pacific Northwest (and its Coffee!)

Posted on: June 29th, 2012 by Lauren Walser 1 Comment

After a 9-hour slog through western Montana, Idaho, and central Washington -- during which we stretched our legs and did some minor sightseeing in Spokane, home of this year's upcoming National Preservation Conference -- we arrived at the beautiful Mayflower Park Hotel, part of the Trust's Historic Hotels of America program, in downtown Seattle.

Originally called the Bergonian, the hotel's original ground floor amenities were a coffee shop, a drug store, a smoke shop, and a barbershop -- but no restaurant or bar space with alcohol service, as it was built during Prohibition.

The interior of the Mayflower Park Hotel in Seattle.

The hotel changed ownership a number of times until one of its owners declared bankruptcy, and it sat deteriorating for years. It found new life in 1974, when an intrepid couple purchased the hotel and turned it into the beauty it is today, with crystal chandeliers in the lobby, stately Queen Anne furniture in the rooms, and coziness to spare.

Now on the ground level, there’s a popular Mediterranean restaurant, Andaluca, and yes, a swanky bar called Oliver’s Lounge, which was the perfect place for two weary travelers to relax after a long day of driving.
Waiting for the Monorail.

Our room had a view of the Space Needle, but we wanted to see it up close. So the next morning, Blaise and I rode the Monorail, which was built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair. It shuttles passengers from downtown to another world’s fair site, Seattle Center, a sprawling outdoor campus with museums, fountains, performance venues, and, of course, the Space Needle. The line to go inside was too long for us, but just standing below and looking up at it was amazing.

Seattle didn’t live up to its rainy reputation while we were there. The weather was absolutely perfect for roaming around neighborhoods like Capitol Hill -- an area I’ve been eager to explore since Preservation magazine featured an article about the revitalization of its Pike/Pine corridor.

Inside the Elliott Bay Book Company.

Once the city’s “auto row,” Pike/Pine has seen many of its old warehouses, car dealerships, and showrooms transformed into cafes, bars, boutiques, and apartments throughout the past several years. I bought a book at Elliott Bay Book Company, housed in a former Ford Truck Service Center, and was tempted by the smell of coffee wafting from Caffe Vita, tucked inside the former 1905 Anderson Tool Supply building.

The next day, we made the short drive down to Portland, Oregon. Our time there was brief, but we covered a lot of ground, exploring neighborhoods like the Pearl District, a recently revitalized neighborhood whose old warehouses have found new lives as galleries, breweries, and high-end design stores.

Portland's historic Hawthorne Bridge.

We walked along funky Alberta Street, the center of one of Portland’s oldest neighborhoods, then we made our way over to the Hawthorne District, where eclectic shops and restaurants are anchored by the landmark 1927 Bagdad Theater & Pub, an impressive Moorish structure restored by popular local brewers, the McMenamin brothers.

Exhausted after a day of exploring, we retreated to our room at the Governor Hotel, another hotel in the Trust’s Historic Hotels of America program. Designed by William Knighton, Oregon’s first State Architect, the hotel opened in 1909 as the Seward Hotel. For years, it was a place of luxury. But during World War II, it was used to house soldiers; after the war, the ground floor became a carpet store.

The exterior of Portland's Governor Hotel.

The interior, as you might imagine, fell into disrepair -- that is, until two Oregonians purchased the building in the 1980s and began renovating it, replicating many of its original Arts and Crafts features. So it’s a new hotel inside an old shell, and it’s a beautiful place to stay if you’re in Portland. Don’t miss the large, four-part mural in Jake’s Grill, which depicts Lewis and Clark’s expedition to the Northwest.

Our time in Portland was bittersweet: It was our last stop before we were back in California, and while we still had a stop in Davis, California, to see family, we spent our final night in the City of Roses knowing our road trip was coming to a close.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser

Lauren Walser is the Los Angeles-based Field Editor at Preservation magazine. She enjoys writing and thinking about history, art, architecture, and public space.

General, Reflections, Travel

One Response

  1. Lauren

    July 5, 2012

    Your post made me homesick for the Pacific Northwest! I hope you were able to get some salmon and Dutch Bros coffee for the drive down to CA.