(originally the Seward Hotel, a.k.a. the House of Cheer)
Architect: William C.
Knighton/renovations: StastnyBrun Architects, East Wing, 1909; restoration 1987, renovation 2005
Take your time looking at this building's exterior, because it's a real eyeful; one can only imagine what Portlanders made of this decidedly unusual building upon its construction. Decorative (almost anthropomorphic) features run rampant across the top of this building, particularly at the northeast corner of the hotel.
* Rooms at the Seward were originally rented for one to two dollars a night.
The terra-cotta decoration on this building follows none of the city's usual classic designs. In point of fact, it appears to be utterly idiosyncratic to any of its time frame's prevailing styles. (Richard Ritz described it as "Vienna Secessionist"!) It also could be said to follow an abstract Art Nouveau/Native American pattern with geometric, boxy medallions, diamonds, and squares.
Despite its size, the hotel was built with a wood-joist floor system, not riveted steel or reinforced concrete. It went through an exhaustive restoration in 1987, when it was "married" to the adjoining Princeton Building to the west. But though the two buildings were connected, they were separate entities until both were bought and put under the Governor Hotel's business name in 2005. The lobby was moved to the west side of the block, and Jake's Grill was expanded into the Governor's former lobby. Few interior features are original, but check out the four-section sepia mural of Lewis and Clark on the ground floor's south wall.
William Knighton (1867-1938) was an imaginative architect who was known for working a "bell" motif - to some, it resembles a shield - into his designs. (As Knighton's middle name was "Christmas," insert your own comment about Christmas bells here.) He became the official State Architect in 1912, and helped to design the Oregon Supreme Court Building in Salem.Less Text