McMenamin's Kennedy School
Sept. 28, 2002
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They've really done something fantastic with an
old elementary school up in Portland.
The McMenamin Brothers,
which locals tell us have done
similar things to old pubs and theaters, have rescued and restored a Progressive-era
school and brought it to life with a hotel, restaurant, bars, theater, meetings,
high school reunions -- all in an environment that blends classic education
architecture with funky and fun art. We found the only empty space in its
crowded parking lot at 8pm Friday, checked into our room (Jack's Room, half
of an old classroom with blackboards still in tact and amazing molding!),
and immersed ourselves into the crowds of happy and hip Portlandians
at the Courtyard Restaurant. In the morning we warmed our bones in the
soaking pool that sits off the old teachers lounge.
"Old elementary school" really doesn't do justice to it at all: the thing was (and is)
a temple to education, and perhaps the only thing that spoils the experience of
staying there is the nagging sense of loss you have when you realize
how much Americans once valued their educational
institutions, how much pride they took in them -- and how different it must have
been for a child to walk into that building, and sit in a classroom with 13-foot ceilings
and windows all the way up, as opposed to sitting in a windowless, modular building.