Unexpected Adventure in Troutdale- McMenamins Edgefield

One of the most exciting things for me about being in a new city is that almost everything is a new adventure. Even something a simple as grocery shopping or finding a dry cleaner brings you to a new part of town with new shops, restaurants and historical spots to explore. This past week was no exception and an unexpected adventure was found in Troutdale, Oregon.

Funny sign on door where we picked up our Mini Cooper

In the process of making our move to Portland, OR, we made a decision to ship one of our vehicles so we could make the cross-country drive together in one car. The shipped car arrived in Oregon and we needed to coordinate a pickup in Troutdale, OR at the local DAS (Dependable Auto Shippers). Troutdale, OR is about 15 miles northeast of Portland, but because of a traffic accident it took us almost an hour to get there. We picked up “Astrid” the Mini Cooper, who made it safe and sound from Minnesota and we decided that in order to avoid further traffic headaches we would find a place to sit down and enjoy an early dinner.

I pulled out my iPhone and used the Urbanspoon app to look for restaurants rated highly in the area. I found one fairly close by called: Black Rabbit Restaurant & Bar and we set off to the restaurant. Minutes later my g.p.s. brought me to the restaurant and it can only be described as a large compound with vineyard out front. We wandered to what appeared to be the front of the “main building” and walked in to find Black Rabbit Restaurant, which wasn’t open for another hour. It was then that we stopped and looked around a bit a realized that we were in a very old, beautiful building that not only had a restaurant, but also was lodging.

I grabbed a map of the complex and was surprised to see all that encompassed McMenamins Edgefield: twenty-six different buildings on seventy-four acres of land. It is a historic site, built in 1911 as the county poor farm. It was a self-sustaining farm that sold surplus produce on the open market for years. During the Great Depression the population soared to over six hundred and the produce being sold was then complimented by a plethora of arts and crafts being made by the unemployed craftsmen and artisans living at the complex. During the 1940’s more Americans found work due to WWII and Edgefield saw a decline in residents. It was at this time that they started offering rehabilitation and nursing home services. Edgefield in the 1970s saw fewer incoming patients as private nursing homes and in-home care became more accessible with the rise of Welfare and Medicaid. A shrinking population and a complex of aging buildings in need of daunting repairs forced the decision to close the old poor farm. In April 1982, the last patients were relocated and the place was locked up.

The complex survived, but under duress of the elements and vandalism, became decrepit. Finally, Mike and Brian McMenamin saw the potential of the location and after an arduous journey they developed a vision for McMenamins Edgewood and developed it into what it has become today. The seventy-four acres encompass a main lodge with over a hundred guest rooms, multiple restaurants and bars, vineyard, distillery, brewery, vegetable garden, winery and tasting room, movie theatre, amphitheater, gift shops, spa and soaking pool and two par-3 golf courses.

We ended up having dinner at the Power Station Pub. The building had provided heat and electricity to the property in the early days and during the nursing home era had served as a laundry facility. The food was fairly typical pub food with a bit more vegetarian options than normally seen at a pub. We also enjoyed some of the well known McMenamin beer that had been brewed on site with our meal.

We didn’t have a lot of time to spend at Edgefield this trip, but because of this lovely, unexpected adventure we are already talking about spending a weekend at the complex sometime in the future so we can explore it and the surrounding area even more!

 

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