The Heathman Hotel is a downtown landmark, built in the late 1920s in the popular Italian Renaissance style. Then, as now, the hotel was a popular center of cultural activity. Its dramatic public spaces have been renovated in grand Art Deco style and provide the perfect backdrop for the hotel’s extensive collection of artwork.
In 1984, the Heathman underwent a $16 million renovation, which included the hotel’s public spaces, interior design, and exterior. In fact, the owner had the original exterior and eucalyptus-paneled Tea Court Lounge fully restored to its original glory. The newly refreshed guestrooms were furnished in the 18th – 20th century styles of Biedermeier, Ming, Empire, and Regency. During the renovation the hotel’s entrance was moved from the Salmon Street side to Broadway, enhancing its visibility, and the hotel went back to simply being called, Heathman Hotel.
The Heathman also supports literary arts and has a library on the mezzanine level containing a collection of over 2,700 books signed by authors who have been guests at the hotel including past presidents, poet laurites, and Pulitzer prize winners.
The city of Portland began rather inauspiciously in 1843 when William Overton and Boston lawyer Asa Lovejoy beached their canoe on the banks of the Willamette River. The original Heathman Hotel was built in 1926, but by 1927 Portland was a burgeoning city that was home to several major lumber barons and railroad magnates, who required a high-end hotel that would meet their expectations. The New Heathman Hotel was built a year later and was just a block away from the original. It was a 10-story concrete structure with brick and featured decorative details in the Jacobean Revival style. The second story and upper-floor windows were trimmed in stone and the lobby’s dark wood paneling extended to the mezzanine. When the Heathman opened it was greeted with much fanfare and The Oregon Journal described it as “Portland’s newest and most modern hotel” and wrote, “It’s planning, construction and general appointments are as modern as ingenuity and talent could possibly make it.”