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Lumber baron and philanthropist, Simon Benson opened the Hotel Oregon in February 1913. It was one of the more soundly constructed hotels and it was well furnished. Unlike some of the poorly constructed hotels that did not survive, the character and ambiance instilled by Simon Benson is still evident in the way the hotel has been preserved.

Benson owned much of the land along the Columbia River Gorge and eventually donated part of it to the city of Portland to build the Columbia River Scenic Highway. This land included Multnomah Falls and Crown Point. The Highway led to his newly constructed Columbia Gorge Hotel at Hood River.

Benson was successful enough to buy the rest of the block and expand

Originally christened the Hotel Oregon, the name was eventually changed to the Benson Hotel

The grand lobby of the Benson Hotel in Portland

The Grille looks much the same today

Theatre Guide Ad from 1907

The Crystal Dining Room

Benson also built the Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood River

Simon Benson was a tee-totaler and he wanted to discourage his workers from drinking alcohol in the middle of the day. He believed that the pure, abundant water found in the foothills of Mt. Hood should be free to all of Portland’s fine visitors and inhabitants.

Benson donated the first twenty 4-spout fountains that were installed around Portland in 1912 and 1913. It was reported that beer consumption decreased by 25 percent.

Today there are 41 Benson Fountains. Forty Benson Fountains are in Portland and one Benson Fountain is in one of Portland’s Sister Cities, Sapporo, Japan.

Portland Hotels

Last updated 10-28-16

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