All American Inn


All American Inn

Portland, Oregon has done one of the best jobs at saving buildings from an early 20th Century World's Fair. They were the first in the Northwest to hold a world's fair, in 1905, and up until the 1960's 4 buildings survived. One of them, the Forestry Building, the largest log building ever built, was renovated in the early 60's but a few years later burned to the ground. The other three buildings, The American Inn, Fairmount Hotel and National Cash Register Building were moved to new locations, renovated, and are still in use today.

This page shows the American Inn, in which the center part of what was a huge hotel at the 1905 Louis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland was taken apart and rebuilt at a new location near the downtown area of Portland.

I was able to visit it and go inside. It is condominiums today and to my happy surprise the building honors the past. Above the fireplace is a picture of the World's Fair, and on the other floors several pictures adorned the hallways. Pictures of the Forestry Building and the Lobby are below.


Interior of the American Inn Lobby:

All American InnAll American InnAll American Inn

Pictures of The Famous Forestry Building
that Hang in the Building:

Forestry Building

Forestry Building

History of the American Inn

from a poster at the American Inn

The American Inn was constructed for the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition and Oriental Fair, an historical and financial triumph that propelled Portland into the front rank of American cities at the dawn of the 20th Century. The World's Fair, commemorating the centennial of Merriwether Lewis's and William Clark's epic exploration of Oregon Country, was launched with the aid and blessing of President Theodore Roosevelt on a 400 acre site at the edge of Portland's Northwest expansion.

Built around shallow Guild's Lake (since filled), in the vicinity of what is now Montgomery Park, the Exposition featured a dazzling array of "Spanish Renaissance" edifices (built at an average cost of 79¢ per square foot) in a lake, river and hill setting that commentators of the day declared had "no equal in earlier fairs." Some 21 nations participated, led by Japan with its $1 million exhibit.

The Exposition attracted 1.6 million visitors from around the world. About a tenth of those, principally the well-heeled, stayed at the 585-room American Inn, the only hotel on the fairgrounds, at a cost ranging from $1.50 to a then staggering $7.00 per night.

The Exposition helped create and intensify the greatest economic boom in Portland's history, yet the buildings that comprised it were largely demolished within months of the fair's closing. The American Inn, as it exists today, is a central fragment of the original, painstakingly reconstructed at its present location in 1906 — one of the last remaining architectural survivors of what historians call "the Great Extravaganza."

The American Inn — an address of distinction for nearly a century.