New Heathman Hotel

New Heathman Hotel
The façade of the Heathman Hotel at the corner of Salmon Street and Broadway in Portland. One of the hotel's iconic costumed greeters is visible to the left of the entrance.
Location 712 SW Salmon St., Portland, Oregon

45°31′3″N 122°40′48″W / 45.51750°N 122.68000°W / 45.51750; -122.68000Coordinates: 45°31′3″N 122°40′48″W / 45.51750°N 122.68000°W / 45.51750; -122.68000

Area less than one acre
Built 1927
Architect DeYoung & Roald
Architectural style Tudor Revival
Governing body Private
NRHP Reference # 84003087[1]
Added to NRHP February 16, 1984

The Heathman Hotel, in Portland, Oregon, United States, was built in the late 1920s. It stands out among the last remaining historical Portland hotels such as The Benson Hotel (opened 1912), Commodore Hotel (built 1925), Imperial Hotel (built 1894), and Governor Hotel (built in 1909 and formerly called the Seward Hotel). The National Trust for Historic Preservation has accepted the Heathman Hotel to be part of the Historic Hotels of America.


The Heathman was built in response to the needs of rich timber barons, politicians, and upper class investors of the day who wanted a hotel that fit their social station and demand for comfort and excellence.

George Heathman owned the Heathman in the 1920s. On the eve of construction he announced plans to put in a ground floor coffee shop that was designed to be the largest coffee shop in the Northwestern USA. He also boasted of unsurpassed cuisine and that his restaurant would be the finest in the city. Restaurant critics would later report that they agreed.

The Heathman Hotel was completed in December 1927. It was a 10-story concrete structure faced with brick. The decorative details were designed in the Italian Renaissance style by the Portland architectural firm of DeYoung and Roald. The second story and upper floor windows were trimmed in stone and the lobby's dark hued paneling extended to the mezzanine, where light flooded through tall arched windows. Acanthus leaves decorated the mezzanine's plaster columns and ceiling trim.

The building of the Heathman was Portland's largest construction project to that date, employing 1,200 workmen, all of whom were invited to celebrate at the pre-opening party. A formal opening occurred on December 17, 1927, marking the end of seven months of work.

When the Heathman was ready, the Governor of Oregon at that time, I. L. Patterson, and then Portland Mayor George Luis Baker showed up to make dedication speeches. Radio station KOIN featured live band and orchestral pieces. The City commissioners joined with the business community to pay tribute to Portland’s newest hotel. Oregon Journal devoted several columns to praising "Portland's newest and most modern hotel" and reported the "planning, construction and general appointments are as modern as human ingenuity and talent could possibly make it", and that it was located on "Broadway … ablaze with theatre marquees, restaurants and shops."

In 1927 Broadway was called Portland's "Great White Way," and was the focal point of downtown's entertainment center. Large, boldly colored marquee lights surrounded the hotel.

The Heathman's coffee shop eventually closed as business diminished. The space was temporarily used as a political campaign headquarters, then sat empty until the hotel's renovation in 1983. The area that is now the hotel's entrance once housed a drug store and gift shop. The drug store gained fame as Portland's first 24-hour pharmacy.

In the 1950s Portland's downtown suffered as business and entertainment left for the suburbs. By the late 1960s Broadway had lost most of its former glory. In the next decade new city leaders would recognize what Portland was losing and seek to turn things around by convincing major retail stores to keep their operations in the heart of downtown, and to even build new locations.

As the city redeveloped the downtown area it attempted to reintroduce music and theater on Broadway. A performing arts center was developed in the old Paramount Theatre (now called The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall) located next door to the Heathman. The site's development and architectural design plans were drawn with the help of the city, private investors, concerned citizens, and artists.

The Portland Center for Performing Arts Area Development Plan noted, in 1982, that the location and development of the New Heathman made its condition crucial to the success of the adjacent Paramount Concert Hall. The Heathman's importance to the neighborhood appealed to developers, so by autumn of 1984 a two-year and $16 million renovation of the building was completed.

The Heathman's public spaces were remodeled in new natural materials like marble and teak brought in by Portland architect Carter Case and interior designer Andrew Delfino. Then owner, Mark Stevenson, had the original exterior and eucalyptus-paneled Tea Court restored. Above the Tea Court, a 100-year-old crystal chandelier that once graced the US Embassy in Czechoslovakia was hung and the walls were decked with 18th-century paintings by French landscape artist Claude Lorrain. All of this labor was rewarded when The New Heathman was recognized by The National Register of Historic Places on February 16, 1984.

The newly redone guest rooms were furnished in 18th–20th-century styles of Biedermeier, Ming, Empire, and Regency. The Heathman acquired several original artworks at this time and launched a campaign of support for the visual arts. The hotel's collection has included 250 original paintings, photographs, and works on paper, with a focus on American artists, and particularly artists local to the Northwestern USA. Prints from Andy Warhol's Endangered Species lithograph series, worth approximately $1.5 million, are found on most floors, and one room specifically pays tribute to Warhol in its interior design.

Visual art exhibits that change seasonally can be viewed on the mezzanine. These exhibits are curated by Portland's Elizabeth Leach Gallery.

The New Heathman also supports literature and has a library on the mezzanine level containing a huge collection of books signed by authors who have been guests at the hotel.[2]

Travel + Leisure placed The Heathman on their World's Best Hotel list from 2005-2007.

In October 2007, a new Heathman Hotel opened in Kirkland, WA, a suburb of Seattle. The Heathman Kirkland is a luxurious state-of-the-art 91-room full service hotel featuring Trellis Restaurant and The Penterra Spa.

KOIN Radio and the Heathman hotels

The Heathman Hotel became the home of KOIN radio beginning on June 21, 1926, when the radio station moved from The Portland Hotel. KOIN studios were located in the Heathman Hotel basement. As the station expanded it outgrew its studio space and looked to the New Heathman as a place to relocate. KOIN moved on December 17, 1927. On September 22, 1932 KOIN acquired a sister station KALE. KALE moved into the KOIN studio complex in 1933. With an additional station, more studio space was needed. Between 1933 and 1939 the mezzanine of the New Heathman was modified several times to accommodate the stations. The biggest change was the addition of the north/south wall and several dividing partitions to create offices along the east side of the building. Studio A and Studio B at the south end were also altered. By 1940 the major structural changes were finished. The studios were then described as "the finest broadcast facility in the country."

KOIN had a larger staff of musicians and entertainers than all other Portland stations combined while located at the New Heathman. Jane Powell, born in Portland, Oregon as Suzanne Lorraine Burce, was one of KOIN's regular radio performers. With its transmitter atop Barnes Hill in the west hills of Portland, KOIN's early audience reached from the Portland metro area into California, Idaho, and Nevada. In 1944 KALE moved out of The New Heathman when KOIN was sold. When KOIN joined the television era in 1953, it required development of larger quarters still and finally left its radio studios at the New Heathman in 1955 to join its TV sister station.

Going green

In 2007 The Heathman Hotel was recognized by PacifiCorp (Pacific Power in Oregon, USA) for the strides it had made towards going green. The hotel worked with Energy Trust of Oregon to improve its energy efficiency, reduce its carbon footprint, and expand its sustainable practices. Windows, ventilation, heating, and air conditioning systems were upgraded and the hotel is replacing all light bulbs with energy saving compact fluorescents. Viking Energy Services and Environmental Controls partnered with the Heathman to save the hotel an estimated 525,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and 15,197 therms of natural gas. The goal is to save the hotel 50 percent of their monthly energy costs.

A Go Green package is also available to guests, as of Earth Day 2007, with the help of a Portland-based nonprofit, Friends of Trees. For every package sold the hotel plants a tree, and green package guests arriving in “green” cars (hybrid or powered by biodiesel) receive complimentary parking. Those guests who “Go Green” also get one night's stay in deluxe accommodations, a continental breakfast for two in the hotel's award-winning restaurant, and a split of fine wine from Van Duzer Vineyards, a LIVE-certified winery that exercises sustainable farming practices. LIVE stands for Low Input Viticulture and Enology, Inc., an Oregon non-profit that certifies wineries for meeting certain environmental standards. Over 60 vineyards are now LIVE-certified.

The Heathman family

Two noted Portland hotels were named for the Heathman family. The family was active in the hotel business for more than 25 years. Between 1925 and 1927, manager and investor George E. Heathman, Jr., was responsible for the erection and operation of three large properties: The Roosevelt and the Heathman hotels, all located within a two-block radius. The Heathman and The Roosevelt's ownership and operation were relinquished soon after their completions.

George Heathman died at the age of 49, less than three years after the New Heathman was completed. His wife, Katherine, and two of their four children remained active in the hotel industry and retained an interest in operations of the New Heathman until the early 1960s. Harry, George's son, managed the hotel until shortly before his death in 1962.


External links

  • Building Oregon: Architecture of Oregon & the Pacific Northwest
  • Guide to the DeYoung and Roald Architectural Plans and Photographs University of Oregon
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