Blog Stories A Piece of History: American Inn Condos

A Piece of History: American Inn Condos

By Lauren Dahl, 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.

Lauren Dahl

Earth Advantage Principal Broker & ADU Specialist

Lauren Dahl moved to SW Portland from the Utah desert in 2014 with her rock-climbing husband, three young children and two cats. A self-confessed pluviophile, Lauren loves the frequent rain, tall trees, vibrant culture and clean air that Portland embodies. Prior to her time in Utah, Lauren grew up in south Alabama and also spent several years in Aspen and Denver, CO. Lauren began her real estate career in 2009 and quickly ramped up to being one of her former brokerage’s top agents. She was named a finalist for the sought-after Rookie of the Year award by the Salt Lake Board of Realtors and also became part-owner and landlord of dozens of rental units ranging from single-family homes to a 15-unit apartment building (all of which she served as the selling agent). When it comes to working with home buyers, Lauren is a visionary who understands that the perfect home is more than just a checklist of features. Whether it’s abundant natural light, a tree-covered landscape, an open floor plan or or a minimalist, modern design, Lauren works tirelessly to find homes that complement her buyers’ lifestyles both now and for many years to come. She spends a great deal of time getting to know her clients as well as previewing homes to make the process more efficient and enjoyable for everyone involved. To the benefit of her sellers, Lauren possesses a unique combination of marketing ability, attention to detail and a love for numbers. She is committed to providing her sellers with up-to-the-minute, comprehensive data so she can further assist them in making pricing and timing decisions. She then puts on her marketing hat to get as many qualified buyers through her listings as possible. Finally, she uses her keen negotiation and communication skills to ensure a smooth transaction right up until closing. Lauren also finds great joy in assisting real estate investors (and aspiring investors!) in pursuing buy-and-hold and renovate/resell (flipping) properties. From the first-time homebuyer looking to maximize her return by purchasing an owner-occupied, four-/tri-/duplex to the seasoned investor looking to fund multiple short-term projects, Lauren has the tenacity and skill to make profitable deals happen. In addition to her experience in real estate, Lauren holds a master’s degree in advertising management from the University of Denver and a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Alabama in mass communication. An accomplished sewist and knitter, Lauren also makes most of her (and her children’s) clothes. She teaches online sewing pattern drafting courses, designs sewing patterns and was a Janome sewing machines ambassador for two years before transitioning back into real estate. Catch up with Lauren on her Portland real estate blog and website, laurendahlpdx.com. You can also tune into her YouTube Channel by clicking here.
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  • T: 503-799-6455
  • laurend@livingroomre.com

Lauren Dahl

Earth Advantage Principal Broker & ADU Specialist


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