Blog Stories A Piece of History: American Inn Condos

A Piece of History: American Inn Condos

By Living Room Realty, September 18, 2018

I recently had the pleasure of helping my client, Melina, look for a downtown apartment. When we first started the search, she admitted that while she loved the feeling of historic buildings, she liked the modern amenities and ease of more modern construction. After seeing several waterfront and Pearl District options, we stumbled upon the beauty that is American Inn Condominiums. She let her heart win over her mind, and I immediately called the listing agent to see if there were any offers. Of course, there was one, and we needed to turn something around in about an hour. Luckily, we made the deadline and got her this gorgeous place!

History of the American Inn
from a poster at the American Inn

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 $1 million 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.

Living Room Realty

Living Room Realty is a full-service real estate brokerage with four offices in Portland, one at the coast in Manzanita, and one in Vancouver, WA. At Living Room Realty, we listen and ask the right questions. We’re committed to being your most effective advisor and advocate. Our goal is your success.
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