A Girlish Dream Burned

Five years ago my family and I took a road trip to Portland, Oregon to visit relatives. During the trip we sight-seed the area some since we all really enjoy the Columbia River Gorge. Late one evening we were on the look out for somewhere to stop for supper when we saw the beautiful View Point Inn lit up and welcoming. We stopped there for our meal.

We found out as they seated us and we began to order that this was the first night the restaurant was open with new ownership. There was hardly anyone there, so it was a nice quiet meal for us. Since the restaurant had just opened the menu options weren’t fully available and what my sisters and I found interesting was we were using temporary silverware… the silverware they would later use in the restaurant was on its way, but still overseas.

After our delicious meal we looked around the inn.

As the dreamy, dramatic girls we were (and still are) my younger sister and I decided this was where we each wanted to have our wedding or at least have our wedding reception someday. I don’t know how serious she really was, but I was and have remained pretty faithful to the dream. I’ve remembered it the past five years, still hoping that maybe someday, if I get married, I could consider this place for the celebration.

Tonight my mom sent me a link to the video below, telling of the charming View Point Inn catching fire last summer. There’s hardly anything of the building left now. I’m very sad to hear the news, not only because it was such an elegant building, but because of my girlish dreams about it.


History of The View Point Inn

“The View Point Inn is a world class fine dining restaurant and boutique hotel on the National Register of Historic Places. Over the past century, the Inn has experienced a history of owners and visitors as colorful as the beautiful sunsets over the Columbia River.

The original property was owned by Lorens Lund, a Danish immigrant who came to the United States in the 1870’s.  Lund and Norwegian wife, Mari, gave the name “Thor’s Heights” to their 120 acres overlooking Crown Point in the Columbia River Gorge.  The land was later purchased by the Grace H. Palmer Corporation.  Mrs. Palmer hired highly renowned Portland architect, Carl Linde, to design and build a $47,000 Tudor Arts and Crafts Style “tea house” and “resort”.  The Palmer House, as it came to be called, opened on June 4, 1925, in hopes of capturing the growing market of automobile tourism that was growing in the Gorge area thanks to the Columbia River Highway.

Mrs. Palmer’s hopes were dashed however in 1927, as bankruptcy forced the Grace H. Palmer Corporation to liquidate and sell the Palmer House.  Luckily, William Moessner, the prestigious German chef de cuisine of downtown Portland’s Benson Hotel purchased the property and renamed it The View Point Hotel.  He ran a highly successful business with his wife Clara for over 50 years.  It was during this time that numerous Hollywood celebrities, famous Americans, and European royals frequented the Inn, including such notables as President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Charlie Chaplin.  The View Point Hotel remained highly successful until the 1960’s.

After the opening of Interstate 84, automobile tourism along the Columbia River Highway faded away, as did the many inns and restaurants dotting the scenic drive.  Proprietor William Moessner, however, stubbornly refused to accept defeat. Every day, he kept the inn immaculate and ready for business. While there is much speculation, no one really knows when the last meal was served.  However, we do know that Moessner faithfully tended to the ghost hotel up until the day of his death in 1979.  The inn was subsequently purchased in 1982 by Doug and Karen Watson, who helped to win it a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.  Only four properties boast this prestigious distinction in the entire Columbia River National Scenic Area.

The Inn’ current owner, Geoff Thompson, secured the property in 1997 and started a very successful restaurant and bed & breakfast. In 1998 the U.S. Forest Service purchased the land surrounding the property and wanted to link the inn with the nearby Vista House to create a state park. Government agencies colluded together and drove Thompson off his land in 1999.  Due to his great love of the gorgeous historic property, Thompson fought to legally block the sale of the inn and the ghost hotel sat empty for the next four years.  In 2003, he returned and purchased the inn a second time with his partner Angelo Simione. After a three year legal battle, which included amending a Federal Act, Thompson finally emerged victorious! That December, The View Point Inn became an Oregon landmark once again.

Against great odds Oregonian Geoff Thompson remained steadfast in his pursuit to save Inn as a historical landmark.  Along with all his staff, he now invites you to come and experience the serene beauty and luxurious comfort of a cherished part of Pacific Northwest history!”

(from http://theviewpointinn.com/inn/history.html)

Goodbye, my lovely dream.


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