For a great weekend near Portland, Oregon, I suggest you check out a place called McMenamins Edgefield. Whatever you like in a weekend getaway, Edgefield has it. A
☑ boutique hotel
☑ golf course
☑ concert venue
☑ art gallery
☑ historical attraction
Edgefield is ✔ family-friendly, ✔ pet-friendly and ✔ earth-friendly. It’s a ✔ romantic getaway, a ✔ girlfriends getaway and a ✔ guys-only getaway.
Yep, McMenamins Edgefield is big enough to handle it all. And more.
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The History of Edgefield Near Portland
My father, like many a good parent of his era, always threatened us to turn off the lights, eat everything on our plates and so forth. Otherwise, we would end up in the poor farm, he claimed.
I was an adult before I realized that poor farms were real things. They were basically welfare programs of an earlier time for people who had fallen on hard times. During the Great Depression, poor farms were true lifesavers for otherwise hard-working, decent people.
One of the poor farms in Oregon was Edgefield, about 15 miles west of Portland. For more than 70 years, it was a working farm where residents had chores and responsibilities that helped pay for their stay. By the late 50s and 60s, it had transitioned into a nursing home of sorts and finally, in the early 1980s, it closed entirely.
The buildings sat empty for nearly a decade until local historians and the McMenamin brothers — Brian and Mike — stopped the wrecking ball.
The McMenamin Brothers and Edgefield Poor Farm
The McMenamin brothers are well-known in Portland for the number of craft breweries, theaters and fun restaurants they operate. The brothers bought 75 of the original 300 acres of the Edgefield Poor Farm and started cleaning up the mess. First, they started with a small winery, then a craft brewery and a movie theater. Each year it seems they add a bit more fun.
There are now nine buildings that serve as restaurants, bars, and coffee roasteries. Some buildings are home to various craft artisans, including a glass blower and potter. The spa is in a building that had been a recovery facility for “women of ill repute.” The former de-lousing shed is now one of eight bars on the property.
Over the years, McMenamins have developed a lovely vegetable and flower garden and brought life back into the orchard. There’s a lovely soaking pool kept at bone-warming 102 degrees. Every weekend, there’s a concert on the lawn or in one of the many little restaurants and bars on the property. Some times, there are two or three musical events underway at a time.
Art-Filled Getaway at the Edgefield Poor Farm
The main lodge now has 130 guest rooms, each with an individual story of someone who had been a resident there. The hallways, doorways, walls, windows and even the exposed water pipes are painted with delightful murals that also tell the story of the poor farm and its residents. There are 12 full-time artists on staff. That’s something you don’t often find in any sort of hotel or resort anywhere in the world.
No Ghosts at the McMenamins Edgefield Hotel
Of course, a place this old with up to 600 residents at a time has to be haunted. The most haunted room, they say, is room 215. As the McMenamin brothers began their work, being good Irish Catholics, they had a bagpipe brigade play “Amazing Grace” throughout the Main Lodge to cleanse the space of any unfriendly spirits.
In keeping with the history of a poor farm, none of the rooms are elegant, although they are indeed quite comfortable. Many have their own private bath, but a majority have shared baths down the hall, as the residents of the poor farm once had. There is no television and Wifi is limited to the restaurants and event spaces.
Even if you don’t stay overnight, explore the hotel area to appreciate the history and the creativity of the artists, and of course, the vision of the Brian and Mike McMenamin. They really went out on a limb here and preserved something special.
For Your Portland Weekend Getaway