17 thoughts on “The American Inn, 1905

  1. 1905 is the year this building was about to end its life. On November 5 that year, an ad appeared in The Oregonian (p.7): “AMERICAN INN: Bids will be received for this building up to November 6th. Special attention is called to the large number of doors and windows in this building, all of which are of standard size. Bids will be received on these separately. The right reserved to reject any and all bids. Plans can be seen at the Hotel office.”

    And on November 26, this ad on page 21: “BOYS WANTED, BETWEEN 16 AND 18 years of age, to pull nails. Apply Monday between 8 and 9 A.M. at the American Inn.”

    On December 14 (p. 12), “FOR SALE: Now is your time, 500 doors with casing, locks and butts: all complete; better than new doors for one-third cost; also fireproof planter-boards at one-fourth cost; all other kinds of lumber and timber. Apply on the premises. American Inn”

  2. On December 31, 1905, an article with the title “WRECKING THE FAIR: American Inn Material for Apartment-Houses — PURCHASER WELL PLEASED” appeared on page 22 of The Oregonian. It goes on to report that “Work on the demolition of the American Inn, the immense hostelry at the Lewis and Clark Exposition which is reputed to have lost for the backers of the enterprise not less than $200,000, has begun and within a few weeks the building material that it contains will all have been taken apart. John Carlyle, formerly of Seattle, announced yesterday that the building material would be used in the creation of several large apartment houses in Portland. Mr. Carlyle is now building a large apartment house near Twenty-first and Northrop streets, and most of the material used in its construction will be taken from the American Inn.”

    It’s a long article with much more information, but I’ll stop here. (BTW, $200,000 in 1905 would be worth almost $6 million today.)

  3. I think I mentioned here before that my neighbor’s cottage, known as “The Door House,” was built from these doors. They’re still in decent shape and undergoing another paint job right now.

  4. The apartment house at 21st and Northrup that Liz references is still there and looks to be comprised mainly of the central portion of the structure shown above.

  5. From the Oregon Journal January 9, 1906 page 7

    Dr. John Carlyle, who purchased the American Inn at the exposition grounds has begun the wrecking of the building and will use a large part of the materials in an apartment house he is erecting on Northrup street between 21st and 22nd streets. The new building will be 86 by 73 feet, three stories, with basement, and will be known as “The Washington”. The ground floor will have a large reception hall, and space above will be given for an open rotunda. A large three story porch will ornament the front. The building will have four 5 room apartments on each floor, with tiled bathroom for each suite.

    The plumbing permit from 1906 shows Dr. Carlyle “hired his own” plumber” with this comment by the inspector.
    “This man I had arrested for doing work without license”

  6. I’m wondering if that line in the trees above the inn might be Leif Erickson Drive in its early days. Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

  7. The American Inn was constructed for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition and Oriental Fair, an historical and financial triumph that propelled Portland into the front rank of American cities at the dawn of the 20th Century. The World’s Fair, commemorating the centennial of Merriwether Lewis’s and William Clark’s epic exploration of Oregon Country, was launched with the aid and blessing of President Theodore Roosevelt on a 400-acre site at the edge of Portland’s Northwest expansion. Built around shallow Guild’s Lake (since filled), in the vicinity of what is now Montgomery Park, the Exposition featured a dazzling array of “Spanish Renaissance” edifices (built at an average cost of 79¢ per square foot) in a lake, river, and hill setting that commentators of the day declared had “no equal in earlier fairs.”

    Some 21 nations participated, led by Japan with its million-dollar exhibit. The exposition attracted 1.6 million visitors from around the world. About a tenth of those, principally the well-heeled, stayed at the 585-room American Inn, the only hotel on the fairgrounds, at a cost ranging from $1.50 to a then staggering $7.00 per night. The Exposition helped create and intensify the greatest economic boom in Portland’s history, yet the buildings that comprised it were largely demolished within months of the fair’s closing. The American Inn, as it exists today, is a central fragment of the original, painstakingly reconstructed at its present location in 1906 — one of the last remaining architectural survivors of what historians call “the Great Extravaganza.” The American Inn — an address of distinction for nearly a century. From livingroomre.com website.

  8. Liz I read the long article from December 31, 1905 (page 22) and learned that Dr. or Mr. Carlyle had purchased a half block near 28th & Thurman where he intended to build a door and sash factory, and where he would store salvaged materials from the American Inn, but this is the most disturbing part of the article.

    “It is said that the asbestos alone in the building could be sold for as much as Mr. Carlyle paid for the structure. Asbestos covers all the walls to prevent the spread of flames should a fire start.”

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