I’ve told you about my Aunt Bea. She is one of my Dad’s two surviving sisters, and the one I am closest to. She was living in Corvallis when I got to visit her at Easter, and has now moved to an assisted living apartment in Bend. So, you know what that means….
The trip around Mount Hood was delightfully foresty, reminding me of all those summer vacations I spent camping with my parents. We drove hours through maples, then pines, then entered the layered volcanic plateau and lost almost all the trees. As we gained elevation we found lodgepole pines and junipers, and when we got out of the car in Bend, the air smelled of gin and tonic!
Our reservations were at a McMenamin’s Hotel, the first such establishment we have ever slept at. It was magical.
The Old St. Francis School started life as the first Catholic School in Central Oregon. Founded by Fathers Luke and Dominic in 1936, it was St. Francis School until 2000, when the growing student population needed more space out of town.
Brothers Brian and Mike, the McMenamins, bought the property, added their magic, and opened for business in 2004, with a major renovation in 2016.
All the elements we love about the McMenamin’s style were there.
The history of the place was celebrated everywhere, even the names of the rooms. We stayed in the Ed Danahy room, named for the janitor of the St. Francis School, and remembered by many students as their favorite adult there. He had a sense of humor and was a good listener. We were honored to be in his smiling presence.
Art was everywhere, framed on the walls, but also in unexpected portraits over doorways and a stained glass portrait of Brother Luke. The orbs that are a featured motif were everywhere, all hand painted and wonderful.
Finally, it was quirky. In the newest building, called The Art building, there were hidden rooms. When you would see a blue light in the ceiling, you needed to start pushing on the walls to find the hidden room! It was so much fun!
We had been told of a bar called The Broom Closet. When we found it, we realized that these weren’t sweeping brooms, these were flying brooms! But the bar was there, just the same. We were amazed.
There is a lot more to tell, and we DID get to have a long visit with Aunt Bea, but I will end here and continue next week.