(originally Ringler's Cotillion Hall)
Architect: Robert F. Tegen, 1914
This building was
specifically designed to be a dance hall in 1914, and that's what it still is today. While the Crystal's checkerboard brick front with arched bays is handsome enough, it's the inside of the building that is amazing. The architect, Robert F. Tegen, was a German who had made similar revolving "ball-bearing" dance floors in other parts of the country. The tango was the newest dance in 1914; while one could face jail time for making its forbidden steps in some parts of the country, this building's third-floor dance hall was intended to capitalize on this infatuation. Theoretically, the patented "Elastic Floor" could be adjusted to the differing needs of various dance-steps. The floor would slightly give way beneath the dancer's feet, giving even the rhythm-impaired Caucasian an advantage in keeping time.
* Rudolph Valentino appeared here in 1923 to give dance demonstrations and make women's blood boil.
The building was financed by an insurance agent and his sister, Paul and Hortense van Fridagh. Yet it was named after Montrose M. Ringler, a celebrated local dance instructor. Ringler was frustrated with his original dance-studio on Morrison Street, which shook when streetcars passed by, and maintained a dance studio here until 1921; if one was interested in learning the "varsity drag" or "hesitation waltz," this was the place to do it.
* Montrose Ringler is credited with bringing a new-fangled game named "basketball" to Portland.
Cotillion Hall continued as a dance hall until 1931. It was then closed, sold, re-opened, and re-named the Crystal Ballroom in 1951. This was not a financial success and the building was subsequently closed again and stood vacant from 1968 until 1997, when it re-opened upon its conversion to a McMenamins' property. The company's happy tradition of decoratively painting every surface according to the dictates of a building's historical tradition held sway. Psychedelic folk art and the building's conscientious and creative remodeling make it a local favorite.
* This building was originally designed with an elevator that would lift cars to extra parking in the structure's east half.
If you're over twenty-one, take a stroll to Ringler's Annex (originally the Flatiron Building, 1917, Frederick Manson White) at Burnside and Stark. The triangulation of Burnside cutting through town produced mammoth beauties like Big Pink as well as this diminutive trapezoid of a building.4 F. Manson White was a very reputable architect, and the layer of detail he gave this cast stone treasure makes it a real beauty. The three-story building has housed a number of businesses over the years, including a cafeteria and a radio station; you'll figure out its current usage soon enough. (Cheers.)Less Text