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If My Elementary School Had Been Like This, My Transcripts Would’ve Looked A Whole Lot Different.

Before I get to my regularly scheduled post, I’d like to offer up a PSA. Or rather, a DSA — Domestiphobia Service Announcement — since it really actually only benefits me. Not the public. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, it would be super cool if you’d like my page or follow me. Sometimes I post stuff on there — like photos or general observations — that I never get around to putting on the actual blog. Yesterday, for example, I mentioned that while I was frantically searching for a place for us to live in Virginia, I was getting more than a little depressed about the prospects. So I did a Google search for a Williamsburg newspaper so I could search the classifieds, and the first result that came up was The Vagazette.

The Vagazette.

And that’s how stressful situations turn funny.

And okay so technically it’s The Virginia Gazette, but that’s not what the URL said.

(Someone actually “unliked” my page after that. I can’t imagine why.)

And, see, if you’re not following along on Facebook or Twitter, you miss these things. More importantly, you sometimes miss the conversation goes along with them. Like when you guys gave me all kinds of fantastic examples about funny baby shower greeting cards when I posted this the other day:

Why don’t they make funny baby shower cards? Like, “I hope you’re into poop!” or, “You know babies don’t come with gift receipts, right?”


You guys are kind of hilarious, and I wouldn’t know that if we couldn’t converse via social media.

DSA Over. Now back to our regularly scheduled program:

Some of my most satisfying travel moments are the ones involving something a little bit… unusual.

Back when I told you guys about my crazy four weeks of travel, Meg from Meg’s Handmade Life suggested that we check out The Kennedy School while we were in Portland.

I had no idea what she was talking about.

Um… You want me to go to a school? While I’m on vacation? Say what?

She did make it sound pretty cool, though, so I made a mental note to ask Justin’s sister Becca if we could stop by. “That’s exactly where I wanted to take you!” she said excitedly, after we’d exhausted the main attractions of downtown Portland. It was close to the airport, which we’d be flying home from that evening, and right in her old stomping grounds across the river.

Leaving the main city skyline behind us, we drove through adorable neighborhoods with the craftsman bungalow style homes that make me all giddy. There were tree-lined streets and quaint little villages with local restaurants and shops. That, I realized, was what I’d been hoping to see downtown. The Portland ‘Burbs, it turns out, are where it’s at!


Eventually we pulled up at… well… it was a school.

That is to say it was a school, from 1915 to 1975. Then, after closing and sitting decrepit for a couple of decades, brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin, owners of the McMenamin’s chain of brewpubs, microbreweries, music venues, hotels, and theater pubs, re-opened it in 1997 in the form of what it is today.


And what exactly is it today?



It’s a hotel. It’s bars. It’s restaurants. It’s a soaking pool. It’s a movie theater. It’s a brewery. It’s basically a place that feels like a school where you can run through the hallways wearing a bathrobe and carrying a beer, and no one would look twice.


Obviously, beer was had. Mostly by the camera operator.

Somewhat of a dark, and obviously old building, it did give off a bit of a creepy vibe.


But it was interesting wandering through the hallways, admiring the art, gazing at historic photographs, and peeking our heads behind various doors.


We didn’t have much time to explore since we were heading to another location for tapas and then off to catch our flight, but we did take time to stop in the Boiler Room Bar, which is actually located in the school’s old boiler room, for a drink and some appetizers.


You know I’m not usually big on chains, but it’s pretty obvious that the McMenamin brothers took some time to create something pretty uniquely incredible, here. And they saved a piece of history in the process! Now that, I think, is definitely something I can support.

P.S. Check out this site for some cool photos of the hotel rooms and the phenomenal, hand painted headboards.

Where can I get one?

What’s one of the most unusual places you’ve ever visited?

Need to Know:

Kennedy School
5736 N.E. 33rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97211

Good to Know:

  • According to their website, room rates range from $115-$155 per night. Not bad for such an interesting locale!
  • They have a movie theater. With alcohol.
  • As a brewery, they also have beer to take home if you’re not actually staying at the hotel and just there to see the sights. From bottles and mason jars to growlers and kegs, they have a size to suit your needs.

*McMenamins did not compensate me in any way for this post. They don’t even know who I am. I just thought the idea of this place was too cool not to share.


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Colleen Brynn

Creepy vibes are fun! I feel like I would 100% love this place. I particularly like the picture of the teacher talking and all those smoky words entering the students’ brains.


They have TONS of cool art and murals in there – that was just one of many! Deliciously creepy. :)


I think there are actually a bunch of these places around Portland. I was told to see them, but was only there for a couple of days. Next time I will tour them, I think. Thanks for the reminder.


You’re welcome! It was definitely worth checking out – next time I’d consider staying for a night, just to get the vibe of what it’s like during parts of the day other than 3:00 on a Monday afternoon. :)

tyson robichaud photography

Hey Katie!

Thanks for the link :) I’ve shot a few of the McMennamin’s properties over the years, and they use many of the same artists which give them a consistent aesthetic. Kennedy School is probably my personal fave though.

Great blog, and couldn’t help but notice you mention North Carolina in the Portland article. Are you from there? I’ve got a lot of family out there (Asheville and the area) and my wife and I were just back there for a visit. Beautiful but the humidity was nuts!

Anyway, hopefully you’re able to get back to Portland and venture outside of downtown more thoroughly, and if you guys do, hit us up, we’ll get you out to see the real Portland :)



No problem! Though I’m kind of flabbergasted with myself for tagging a photographer in a post with photos quite THIS bad. ;)

The art in there was very cool, and it’s pretty incredible that they can use several different artists, let them be creative, but still come up with a pretty cohesive aesthetic.

Right now my husband and I live in Fayetteville, NC (he’s in the military), but if you peruse through the travel categories in the top menu, you’ll see some posts about our trip to Ashland. LOVE it there – such a great town in a beautiful mountain setting. Kind of like the Portland of the east coast, I guess! We’re actually getting ready for a move to Virginia, and while I’ll definitely miss certain aspects of NC, I’m very ready for a change.

My husband’s sister and her boyfriend live in Salem but they want to get back to Portland as soon as he finishes school, so I’m sure we’ll be back out that way – when we are, don’t be surprised when we take you up on your offer. :)


wow. so much inspiration. i’ll have to add this to my list of places to check out. we’ve been meaning to visit portland… hm…


Ooh, be sure to go on a day that HooDoo Antiques is open – I was only able to window shop there, but it looked incredible!

Don't be shy... tell me what you think!