Hotel Lenox, Portland Oregon
The building was originally designed as an office building and received a building permit in 1906 for that purpose. During construction a decision was made to use the building as a hotel. A few minor changes were made such as changing the number of water closets from 8 to 43 and the number, of bath tubs from 6 to 24 before the building opened as a hotel.
The Hotel was commissioned by Emil C. Jorgensen, who owned the property on the corner of S.W. Third and Main. Jorgensen was born in Denmark in 1851 and immigrated to the United States in 1870. He moved to Portland soon thereafter and worked as a salesman in the liquor business. He later owned a liquor business with his partner, Daniel Marx, which, according to one account, was "one of the leading wholesale liquor houses in the Northwest". Jorgensen's life is a story of a business success. He came to America with very little capital, yet with a careful business sense he did well for himself and his family. He was active in civic affairs and was responsible for one of the first auditorium buildings to be built in Portland.
When the Hotel opened in 1907 the proprietors were listed as the Dagget Hotel Co., with F.E. Dagget as president. Management was taken over by O.H. Spencer shortly after it opened in 1907 and stayed until the fall of 1908. Advertisements in the Oregonian began to appear for the Hotel by September, 1907. It was advertised as "Portland's newest and most modern Hotel, Up-to-date-grill, free bus meets all trains, Rates $1 day and up European Plan - long distance phones in all rooms - Private Baths."
Jorgensen's two sons, Edwin D. and Victor H. Began to manage the Hotel in 1909. Although the Hotel had opened two years earlier they advertised it as "Select Family Hotel, Newly opened September, 1909". This ad ran from September 6 to March 1912. At that time they added the sales pitch, "A truly modern, truly Home-like and quiet hotel, centrally located. Our electric bus will meet you". This ad ran until 19l6.
The Hotel prospered under the management of the brothers, who catered to visiting families. The Hotel was considered a nice hotel among Portlanders. It received front page coverage in the weekly Hotel News in 1914 for its beautiful entrance. Printed below a photo of the entrance, the print read, "This picture shows what is conceded by many as the handsomest hotel entrance in the City of Portland, entrance to the Hotel Lenox. This hotel is located opposite the plaza at Third and Main Streets and affords accommodations to the traveler or permanent guest and service of the best, while their rates are extremely reasonable."
The brothers, who owned the hotel after their father died in 1923, continued to run the hotel and keep an office in the NE corner of the first floor until 1937. In 1937 the name was changed to "New Lenox Hotel" and although the Jorgensens continued to own the building, the management of the hotel was taken over by Peter Kosturos. The Lenox did not try to alter its image as a family hotel. An ad in the 1941 City Directory advertised the Lenox as "Quiet, orderly, homelike and modern".
After the Jorgensen brothers quit managing the hotel, it began to slide downhill in quality and reputation. At least nine different managers ran the hotel from 1937 to 1975.
The first floor of the Hotel Lenox has a history separate from that of the Hotel. In the original design the first floor was divided into a dining room, kitchen, barber shop, bar room, office, lobby, store and office spaces. The building opened with a restaurant which was noted for its quality. The first floor saw a variety of tenants during the time it was used for store spaces. Among them were Weibel Brothers Taxidermists, Nilsson Wall Paper Co., Park View Confectionary Co., Cleve Marsden Watch Repair, Philo Gilbert Massage, and M.L. Morgan Sporting Goods. From 1950 to 1975 the northeast corner was occupied by Frank's Parkview Inn, beer parlor.
The most recent tenant was the Oregon Mountain Community, a sporting goods store, which occupied most of the first floor from 1978 to 1980.
A few slight changes have been made on the first floor to accommodate office, and store spaces over the years. In 1925 girders were added and in 1957 the basement was divided with a stud wall and the stairway was enclosed to conform to code. At some time the N.W. corner was replaced with a door. On the north wall the windows were lowered and a door was added.
The hotel suffered from a fire on November 23, 1950. Flames spread from a rubbish bin in the basement to each floor and onto the roof. No one was injured, but the flames did melt some of the metal in the building. Among the repairs necessary was the replacement of nine toilets and three sinks. The damage was estimated at $35,000.
The first floor was extensively remodeled in 1978 by a new tenant who leased the space for a store. He added sheet rock to the walls and took out several partitions. He and several other men stripped the upstairs of the hotel in 1978 as part of a proposed renovation project. They had hoped to develop the hotel into a home for low income renters. The renovation work was stopped when funds and other support for the project did not materialize.
The building was not used as a hotel after 1975 and the upstairs remained empty.
Ownership of the building passed into the hands of Victor Hugo Jorgensen Jr. in 1977. Jorgensen sold the property and the hotel to the Portland Development Commission in 1979, ending 73 years of family ownership.
The hotel is a square 100' x 100' 4 story building with a 16' x 54' 10" skylight on the first floor. The second, third and fourth stories are built in a U-shape around the skylight well.
The hotel has a full basement. The first floor was originally divided into a dining room, kitchen, barber shop, bar room, office, lobby, store and office spaces. Later walls were changed to provide store space for tenants. The second, third and fourth floors each contain 28 rooms. Each were equipped with a wash basin and for every two rooms, a toilet and bath tub. Each floor had two closets and a bathroom.