The very words elementary school bring back memories of the smell that emanates from a newly opened box of crayons — the big box if you are lucky, cafeteria lunches of stale pizza and cardboard box milk, the long walk to the principals office (at least mine was long), and the gladness of the heart that you can only feel when carrying a backpack full of newly bought school supplies. Wouldn’t it be great to go back for a day or two?
McMenamins, a Portland based company allows you to do just that at their Kennedy School Hotel. The McMenamin brothers, Mike and Brian, restored this elementary school which first opened it’s doors in 1915. In doing so, they took an important community center that was abandoned and on the verge of being demolished and allowed new life to flourish within its’ doors.
For history buffs, this is the real thing. Original artwork and historical photos are standard decor and the rooms are converted from former classrooms complete with chalkboard and cloakroom. You can even visit the front desk, once upon a time the principals office, and pick up a self guided tour of the school’s history told through artwork.
Other highlights include a detention bar and an honors bar, a restaurant in the former school cafeteria, a brewery that once was the little girls room, and a soaking pool where the teachers lounge used to be.
But the true treasure is that this place has roots. People have grown up here. They have ties to the building. Just imagine it. Children have played recess here, learned how to spell, made drawings for their mom, put on school plays, perhaps even had their first kiss. (My first was in front of my cubbyhole in kindergarten).
Do me a favor, if you go, close your eyes as you are walking down a hallway and imagine you are eight again and on your way to class. The sound of children’s laughter is ringing in your ears and you don’t have a care in the world.
It is worth a visit isn’t it? After all, how many times do you get a chance to be a child again? Oh, and Mike and Brian, if you happen to read this could you consider opening something in Missouri? We have way too many historic buildings that could use a little TLC.
Photo Credits: McMenamins
About the Author: Kate is a travel junkie at heart. She lives for exploring cultures, food, history and local life and is currently scheming ways to get enough time free to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Get Trip Logic Updates by Email.