The world is full of amazing, architectural masterpieces that have stood the test of time — from Westminster Abbey to the Taj Mahal, the Rome Colesseum to our very own country’s White House and everything in between. Each one acts as a blueprint for our world’s history, shedding light on the past in which we came from and there are plenty of such historic buildings still standing in the beloved Hood River community. Take a walk through history at these historic Hood River buildings.
Martin and Carrie Hill House
2265 Highway 35
One of the finest and most ornate examples of the Dutch Colonial Revival architectural style can be found right here in Hood River at the Martin and Carrie Hill House, also known as The Gorge White House. Characteristic elements of the style include the house’s symmetric, rectilinear form, fanlights, dormers, balconies, and fluted columns among other key components. A high level of historical integrity can also be found within the house as there have only been minor alterations made to its infrastructure since its construction in 1910.
The house itself resides within an orchard property that was purchased in 1901 by Martin Hill. Hill was a businessman that was prominent in the development of the apple industry in the Hood River Valley in the city’s early history. He had the house built in 1910 as a relocation home for him and his wife who was joining him from Iowa. The home still resides within the orchard today, having been listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, during which year it was opened to the public as an agricultural tourism business where it now serves as a local oasis that provides artisanal farm fresh foods, award-winning hard ciders and wines, and U-pick fruits and flowers to the Hood River community.
Simpson Copple House
911 Montello Avenue
Another key player in the region’s early apple industry to build a historic house that still stands today in Hood River was Simpson Copple. Copple was a Civil War veteran and pioneer orchardist who bought what is now the Simpson Copple House shortly after its construction was completed in 1906. He lived at the house until his death and in 1987 the home was added to the National Register of Historic Places. To date, the house is one of the best-preserved examples of the vernacular, late Queen Anne architectural style with its gables especially standing out from similar houses within the fair city of Hood River.
301 Oak Street
Today, the historic bank building Butler Bank serves as the home of art instead of money as it once was, serving now as Hood River’s 301 Art Gallery. It was erected in 1924 during the city’s second major phase of urban development. One of the most celebrated architects of the 20th century, Portland-based A.E. Doyle, designed the building with the infrastructure holding the title of the only Egyptian revival-style creation of his within the state of Oregon.
Leslie Butler, head of the Butler Banking Company, commissioned him to create the bank for himself and his business partner and son Truman. Initially, the bank had great commercial success, but in the end, it was just one of many businesses to fall under the weight of the Great Depression. Eventually, the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 and was converted into Hood River’s beloved art gallery, 301 Gallery, in 2019.
Columbia Gorge Hotel
9000 Westcliffe Drive
When Simon Benson, a prominent businessman and philanthropist who made a mark for himself in Oregon’s early history, began work on the Historic Columbia River Highway in 1913, he envisioned a hotel at the end of the road for wayward travelers. Thus, in 1921 he completed the Mission-style hotel, Columbia Gorge Hotel, on the site of the previous Wah Gwin Gwin Hotel that had been built in 1904. It had quite a rocky start in its early history, going through several changes of ownership between 1925 and 1952. It was during 1952 when the 48-room hotel closed, afterward being sold to the Neighbors of Woodcraft, a non-profit fraternal benefit society based in Oregon since 1905. They converted the hotel into a retirement home that was open until the hotel was sold again in 1978.
The new owners reopened the Columbia Gorge Hotel as a 42-room hotel in 1979 after a $1-million renovation. It once again swerved wayward travelers until it closed again in 2009 due to foreclosure. In October of that year, Vijay Patel’s A-1 Hospitality Group bought the hotel for $4 million and spent the next three years the building underwent a major renovation. Today, the hotel still hosts weary travelers, with such special guests as Burt Reynolds and Shirley Temple, and has expanded into a venue for weddings and special events as well.
Besides these amazing historic architectural wonders serving as a blast from the past in the Hood River community, are other historic buildings such as the Hood River Middle School, Cliff Lodge, Heilbronner Block, and Waucoma Hotel. All of these buildings and more tell the story of the city’s development, reminding us of how far we’ve come as a community all while serving the residents of today in new and exciting ways.