Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Timberline Lodge at Mount Hood

The West Coast's notoriously wet spring weather finally paid us a visit when we left the coast and headed inland to Portland. We didn't have pouring rain - but it was a drizzly, unpleasant couple of days. We were planning to visit Mount Hood, about 60 miles east of Portland, but were debating whether we should go or not. After all, the mountain was shrouded in clouds. After asking around many people said "Oh, go anyway - you must see the Timberline Lodge. So we went, and they were right. What an amazing work of art and example of American ingenuity it is!

High up on MT. Hood it was too clouded in to get an exterior picture of the lodge so this is one of a painting in the lobby:

The Lodge was built by hundreds of hands eager to work after months or years of unemployment in the 1930s. Ninety percent of the men and women who built and furnished the lodge were hired by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the federal agency created in 1933 to provide work for the hundreds of thousands of Americans idled by the Great Depression.

There are many, many amazing stories about its construction - It was built and furnished in just 15 months. My favourite part of the story is how it was decorated.

Margery Hoffman Smith, a Portland interior designer, served as the State Fine Arts Administrator under the Federal Art Project and had the assignment of creating an interior that would be suitable to the setting and furnished entirely by handwork. Mrs. Smith's background in art and crafts made her sympathetic to the idea, and many of the designs for textiles and rugs are her own. She worked closely with the supervisors of the furniture and wrought iron projects and commissioned the art. She created the color schemes and the Art Deco details in the interior. Mrs. Smith wrote later, "The job was to be done and done in a hurry. There was no time; there were no facilities for blueprinting. It was a quick swing into action - and what action it was!" There were not many skilled artisans in the area so she hired those available and had them train journeymen tradespeople to create the required pieces. The results are spectacular. 

Unfortunately, in the lodge's early years, it had had four different operators, none of which was willing or able to maintain it. By 1955 Timberline Lodge was closed and in disrepair.

Richard Kohnstamm, the patriarch of the family that currently operates the lodge, remembered those difficulties as being due to financing problems arising from the fact that the government owned it. Kohnstamm decided to maintain the place as if he owned it himself. He lost money during his first five years of operation, but his timing turned out to be fortuitous, since he began operating it only a few years before skiing started exploding in popularity in the late 1950s. That popularity helped the family generate a profit starting in 1960. Kohnstamm, "The man who saved Timberline", died at the age of 80 on April 21, 2006. Richard's son Jeff is now the Area Operator of Timberline Lodge.

Today it is a National Historic Landmark, its furnishings restored or recreated according to original plans and photos. 

The resort has the longest skiing season in the U.S., and is open for skiers and snowboarders every month of the year. Activities include skiing, snowboarding, walking, hiking and climbing.

I took many photos while we were there - the lodge is very bright with natural light and then they added more- making photography difficult with my camera, but you will get the idea.

All the furniture in this room, including the light fixtures are handmade. The art on the walls appears to be original. Each had a light in front of it and therefore I could not get a clear photo.

The diningroom was being set up for lunch when we were there.
Ceiling in the main lobby
Seating area around the fireplace below 
A closer look at the hand made furnishings, fabrics and rug
The Blue Ox Bar
The Lodge was nearly finished when it was noticed that there was no bar. Improvising architects altered a space tucked away behind the lobby and designed for wood storage to create the Blue Ox Bar. The recently restored glass mosaic murals illustrate the well known Paul Bunyon legend and his beloved blue ox, Babe.
An example of the original bedrooms, on display in the main lodge
Images of local flowers, wildlife and colours were woven into the fabrics and in the art on the walls.
All the newel posts were carved from telephone poles. 
The artistry is amazing:
I could go on and on. The place was quite overwhelming. I think you would need to stay there a few days to take it all in. 

To enlarge the pictures simply click on them.
You can follow more of our adventures on our facebook page
To contact me click here 
We enjoy and appreciate your comments. To comment simply click on the comments link below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi There. Thanks for visiting. I enjoy and appreciate your comments.