The theater at the Grand Lodge - called the Compass Theater is just fantastic

McMenamins Grand Lodge, Part One – Forest Grove

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.

The Western stairs that go to the third floor
The stairway is concealed cleverly behind a door that features a Kindly old woman and the words “The Attic”.  The stairway is a fantastic exam please of why McMenamins is an appealing place – there are mismatched lights hanging down, seemingly at random, a large clean brick wall, and a glorious window – they know how to make a stairway interesting
Hallway through the third floor very interesting hallway with odd intersections, hidden doors and reading coves
The top of the stairs and the hallway that leads through the Grand Lodge’s more exclusive rooms – the walls in the rooms are angled and most have private bathrooms

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.

The reading nooks feature stuffed chairs, fancy tasseled floor lamps and a window to the outside.  They also frequently have reading suggestions just nearby
The chairs in the reading nooks are quite comfy and there are quite a few, perfect for a lazy time in a relaxing environment
Another reading nook on the third floor at the Grand Lodge
There’s not much that a relaxing afternoon reading in a comfy chair can’t fix, wouldn’t you say?
Another reading nook on the third floor
One spot that was too small for a room (even a hidden one!) and nothing else seemed appropriate – put a chair in it!

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.

Looking down the hallway at the different lights and dark paint along walls and ceiling
You can see what I’m talking about with the darkened walls, the dim lighting and vastly different lamps almost next to each other, it’s crazy, yet magnificent
The hallway extends out a long distance concealing the recessed nooks and hidden features
The hallway is much longer than can be seen in this picture, there are many recessed reading nooks and at least two hidden features along the hallway

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 hidden door to the concealed stairway
The door to the hidden stairs is very well concealed – it closes on it’s own but also opens at the slightest touch
The inside of the hidden stairway starts out in what looks like a blacklit cave
The walls are painted with odd sayings and  cave features and are lit by blacklight bulbs everywhere creating an otherworldly experience
The paintings of the hidden stairway continued as did the blacklight lighting
The lighting theme and weird paintings continued to the stairs.  I didn’t go down the stairs – who knows what lies at the bottom of those stairs!!

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.

The doorway to the smaller hidden room is very cleverly hidden and almost impossible to detect
The door to the hidden room is very well concealed and closes on it’s own, if not very diligent on trying all of the different places where it might be it would be nearly impossible to detect
Inside the hidden room the mushroom paintings can be seen
The hidden room has this bizarre mushroom and toadstool motif going on, there isn’t even room to put a reading chair in this room, but just going in there is a bit trippy and can make for an odd experience
The room itself, while dim is still lit enough to see everything and the effect is very strange The blacklist builds in the overhead ceiling light
In this room is a lamp suspended from the ceiling filled with blacklight bulbs

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.

The entrance to the west side stairway
Sure, it looks like some kind of closet, but it’s actually the door to the western side stairway that I mentioned earlier
The hallway on the second floor looking east
The hallway is much brighter than the third floor hallway – it’s got regularly spaced adequate lighting – there are also too many different and interesting artworks to mention, suffice to saying that there will be many opportunities to enjoy art just by wandering around the Grand Lodge
Another view of the second floor hallway with benched and artwork
Many of the doors are quite innocuous and have windows on the doors.  Comfortable benches are in the hallways and artwork adorns the walls as well
Sign pointing to the bar located at the west end of the second floor and artwork visible on the walls
The artwork on the walls is often accompanied by quotes or sayings, I’m not sure if that originated with the original owners of the Grand Lodge, or if it is a McMenamins addition, but there is artwork and symbology everywhere

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”

Artwork on second floor very Masonic influenced
This was one of my favorite works of art and one that I sort-of understood, according to the words next to it someone is being judged by the all-seeing eye

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.

The elevator on the second floor at the Grand Lodge
I didn’t end up taking the elevator up, it took a while to arrive to the second floor, but I did press the button to make sure it was working and did see it arrive (eventually).  The inside is as decorated as the 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.

Looking into a room where a lovely couch, fireplace and artwork can be seen
The room looks very comfortable and it would be a fantastic place to spend a few days.  I plan on staying at least a night or two in one of the McMenamins Hotels, but didn[’t get an opportunity at the Grand Lodge

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.

The Billy Scott bar is a great place to visit and enjoy the moment
The floor of the Billy Scott bar has an amazing patterned rug in it.  It’s like an enormous fantastic Persian rug.  Just wonderful.  The booth areas are comfortable and have some privacy and most feature a terrific view outside.  There is an enormous table in the center of the room that encourages conversation with fellow guests
Mystical themes painted on the ceiling at the Billy Scott bar
The Masonic influences seem to continue to the Billy Scott bar as there are encouraging sayings painted not he crossbeams “That Filled Their Very Souls With Awe” – not sure what it references or is about but it feels encouraging

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.

Tile wall mural between first and second floor on the way to the theatre
The landing before the theatre has a very intricate wall-sized tile mural.  I’m not sure of the symbolism but I notice there is a magician with the sun and moon and also a crow on the ground – I’m sure it’s all relevant, nut not sure of the meaning I can only appreciate the artwork
The movie poster and Compass Room board are some of the few modern touches at the Grand Lodge
The movie I saw was the sequel to Bladerunner, and wasn’t too bad.  One of the few bows to modernity is the movie listing with times, rating and prices

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.

The concession stand is a great first stop on the way to the movie - be sure to order a meal and beverage, they’ll deliver it to you while the movie is playing
The concession stand is where you can order a meal to be had in the theater like I did.  You can also ask for the food to be delivered at a specific time (more or less) and the very friendly staff will bring it into the theater while the movie is showing
Mirror across from the concession stand - seems like it’s original but was actually installed within the last five or six years
The mirror across from the concession stand looks like it’s been there forever but as it turns out one of the McMenamins people put it there – they definitely have an eye for design and are able to find fantastic items to put in their establishments
Regular menu items all off which can be delivered and consumed at your seat while watching the movie
It’s still amazing to me that there are seats (which are super comfy) but where you can also enjoy a regular meal.  The only thing I suppose I’d change is a very small low wattage bulb so you can see what you’re eating
The specials menu also has some happy hour food options
Apologies for the poor picture, but you get the idea, lots of yummy options to have while watching your movie.  McMenamins takes time to prepare good food, so it’s a treat to be able to eat while watching a movie

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.

The theater at the Grand Lodge - called the Compass Theater is just fantastic
The theater is just awesome, the ambiance, comfortable seats, nuilt-in tables in front of the seats (gotta have somewhere to dine after all) just makes visiting the theater a pleasure.  There are plenty of seats and while you’re getting your tickets you can even choose a seat
The rear of the theater has some great artwork like the rest of the building
The rear of the theater has some amazing artwork that can be seen – I’m not sure what the artwork signifies, but it’s fantastic to behold, nonetheless

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.

4_5-HeyWillamettes

 

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