History

A Portland icon is born

The original Heathman Hotel was built in 1926. By 1927, Portland had become a burgeoning city and needed an even higher-end hotel that would meet their expectations. The New Heathman Hotel was built a year later, just a block from the original. It was a 10-story concrete and brick structure, with 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.” They wrote, “Its planning, construction and general appointments are as modern as ingenuity and talent could possibly make it.”

In the hotel’s early years from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, the mezzanine was home to the studios of Portland radio station KOIN. Within those studios, described as the finest in the country, the station boasted a roster of musicians and entertainers larger than all other local stations combined and, from their transmitters high above the nearby West Hills, they beamed their signal as far as California, Nevada and Idaho.

In 1984, the Heathman underwent a major renovation during which the original exterior and eucalyptus-paneled Tea Court Lounge were fully restored to their original glory. During this renovation, the hotel’s entrance was moved from Salmon Street to Broadway, enhancing its visibility, and the hotel dropped the ‘new’ designation with guests and locals referring to it simply as the Heathman Hotel.