McMenamins Manic Mondays – Episode Three
Ok, just so we’re on the same page let me be perfectly clear on this one. The Grand Lodge is enormous. Like huge. So in the interest of not driving you all (and me) just nutty I decided to break up the stories into multiple sub-chapters. I know, I know, you want it all right now, and I sympathize, but there’s just. So. Much. To cover that I think it’s best to break it up a little and let you all have it in small digestible chunks – nobody wants a belly-ache, right? To that effect, I’m going to write three different stories about the Grand Lodge, and if that isn’t confusing enough, I’m going to start at the top and write about the third and second storylines before going to the first and basement levels, finally finishing at the exterior – which really does deserve it’s own story. Confused yet? Sorry about that. Anyhow on to McMenamin’s Grand Lodge.
How do I get to the Grand Lodge?
So glad you asked that, obviously since the stories about the Grand Lodge are in reverse you might have thought I was going to make you wait until the final part to talk about how to get there, right? Well, fooled you!!! Well probably have a small recap on the location for each part then dive into the actual different parts just after that. This episode after all is the first one and likely the one that will get read first, so it’s important to me that you know how to get there.
Now that you know how to get there I’m going to really confuse you because we’re going to start on the third floor. I know, that’s crazy, but hey, that’s how I roll, but mostly because I didn’t get a chance to explore as much of the first floor or basement while I was there.
Grand Lodge – West Stairway
For me, the third floor was the most interesting, and the one that actually had quite a bit of personality. I’m not sure how much was done creatively before McMenamins took over, I do remember when that happened early in the year two thousand – I’d just moved to the area in June of nineteen ninety-nine and the re-opening seemed like a significant event, which it was. I was in the area just a bit ago watching a movie – even though I’d lived about four blocks away I had never gone to a movie at the Grand Lodge, it’s a crime, I know, but there wasn’t a convenient time, or at least that’s my excuse. Since there isn’t a logical order already, I’m going to start between the second and third floor in the stairway on the west side.
Grand Lodge – Third Floor Reading Nooks
One feature I especially liked (as I’m an avid reader) is the abundance of small reading nooks. They almost all feature a window – great for natural light, a comfortable chair – look like vintage chairs to me, but who can tell and a very nice mismatched floor lamp. There are several on the floor and I was able to sit down at a couple of them and just enjoy the moment.
Grand Lodge – Third Floor Hallway
I’ve never been a psychedelic drug user or abuser, but I could imaging anyone with that proclivity would feel fairly disoriented in the hallway on the third floor. The lights are pretty dim and there is no rhyme or reason to the installation points or design of the lights themselves. The walls are painted a very dark color, so it really seems like a trip down the rabbit hole.
Grand Lodge – Third Floor Hidden Stairs and Room
As one might imagine, at the Grand Lodge there are a multitude of interesting features – places the average guest may not even discover. I was able to find two hidden features, one was a garishly painted (and blacklit) stairway to the second floor and another was a hidden room with no furniture, just hidden.
The other concealed feature I found besides the stairway was a small room with no furniture in it but the door was definitely meant to be concealed and the lighting was again a kind of blacklight. I wonder what the purpose of this room was before McMenamins took over the property? I’ll bet there are many untold stories, maybe some about this room.
Grand Lodge – Second Floor, Attic Entrance and Hallway
I made my way back down through the west stairs and let the third floor – there is an elevator but like the rest of the building it’s a bit dimly lit and not a little unnerving to ride in, so I decided to use the stairs again.
Since the original owners of the Grand Lodge (I actually think they still technically own the Grand Lodge, but McMenamins has leased it for ninety-nine years or something like that) were Mason’s much if not all of the artwork has some kind of mystic symbolism in it – I was able to get a picture of a fantastic example which had the following message painted next to it: “Joe Roark, the first administrator of the home, stands with his wife, Minnie and his daughter, Helen. They are being judged by the all-seeing eye and Henry Mount, an early resident”
Grand Lodge – Second Floor, Elevator, Billy Scott Bar, and a Guest Room
I suppose it’s not that surprising that the Grand Lodge has an elevator, but in a building that is as old as this one it was surprising for me. When I thought about it though, it seems like that would have been a requirement as the original residents were older retired Masons and their families. The elevator itself its a bit cramped but is nicely decorated on both the inside and outside.
I’m a little nosy, trying doors and looking into rooms, and since it was the time of day when the rooms were being cleaned I took an opportunity to get a picture of a room that has a very nice fireplace, couch for reading and relaxing and a separate bedroom. This may have been one of the rooms with a shared bathroom as I don’t remember one in the room or attached.
The Billy Scott bar, found at the west end of the second floor is like many of the rooms and features in the Grand Lodge, relaxing, mismatched and most of all comfortable. There were quite a few patrons in it when I visited so I didn’t get the normal variety of mind-blowing pictures while I was there, but I did manage to sneak a few.
Grand Lodge – Second Floor Theater – or the real reason I was at the Grand Lodge to begin with!
The main reason I went to the Grand Lodge, besides to write a story about an amazing historic location was to watch a movie. Having never been in the theater there and secretly harboring a desire to one day own my own small independent theater I was looking forward to watching a movie at this location and the fact that I could have lunch while watching the movie and an adult beverage too, well, that’s pretty cool! The stairs to the theater is in the middle of the Grand Lodge on the first floor, but we’re talking about the second floor (see how I abide by the rules, mostly?) so we’ll split the difference and start at the landing which features some amazing masonic artwork done in incredibly intricate fashion and made out of tiles.
The means to get from the first floor to the second which ends at exactly the theater is a multi-level sloped ramp. At the top the first thing seen is the concession stand – this is where some of the magic of the McMenamins theater happens, it has plenty of regular concessions and also has beer and everything on the food menu available. I ordered a Captain Neon burger (blue cheese and bacon) – that just sounded good.
Grand Lodge – Second Floor Inside the Theater
It’s pretty dim in the theater before movies happen – so apologies for the poor picture quality, but you can definitely see the ornamentation and thought that went into redesigning this theater from a live performance theater to a m movie theater – Maybe they do have live performance there? Not sure. The seats though, are super comfortable and there is lots of space for legs and feet. The theater was a touch loud for me, but that may simply have been the film I was viewing at the time – the Bladerunner sequel.
Summary and Rating
The Grand Lodge is a huge magnificent example of construction that has passed – the exterior is just as amazing as the inside – the only thing we’ll consider in this particular review is the third and second floor, as that is the parts I’ve focused on. The third floor is just amazing and has a wonderful hallway with multiple hidden spots and weird fantastic lighting there are also many reading nooks I particularly like. The second floor has the Billy Scott Bar and a room I was able to view, which was great!! The second floor also has the Compass Theater which was amazing – if a bit loud on the sound for me – I’m going to deduct half a willamette for that, however there is so many other positives to go with the theater that one thing can easily be forgiven. The food, the tables, the comfy chairs all make visiting the theater an absolute pleasure. I’ll award the third and second floor four and a half Heywillamettes but keep in mind we’ve still got two more parts for the Grand Lodge, so keep reading for more artwork, more great adult beverage locations and more interesting spots.