The Benson Hotel 1912 –
An Era of Elegance and Opulence
The venerable Benson Hotel, currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a Portland landmark, and a timeless tribute to its founder and designer Simon Benson. Carefully nurtured for over a century, the stately hotel retains the opulence for which it is world-famous. A.E. Doyle’s architectural talent – reflective of a golden era – combined with Simon Benson’s tenacity, business savvy and impeccable taste; live on as the foundation of The Benson Hotel, an American classic.
The Doyle approach for the 12-story Benson was in the French Second Empire style – glazed terra cotta and brick exterior, arched lobby windows and a French mansard roof with dormers. Inside the hotel, Simon Benson spared no expense in his pursuit of elegance. The ornate lobby features Italian marble floors, a classical coffered ceiling and Austrian crystal chandeliers. The walls and pillars are finished in rare, now extinct, Circassian walnut imported from the forests of Imperial Russia and remains a focal point of The Benson’s grand lobby.
Portland’s historic landmark hotel, The Benson, opened in 1913 as an annex to the adjacent Oregon Hotel. The 1959 addition of 175 guest rooms built on the adjacent site of the former hotel, doubled The Benson’s room capacity, and allowed for the expansion of meeting space. The Mayfair Ballroom, which seats 400 people, as well as the connecting El Gaucho Steakhouse, makes The Benson a premier destination for leisure, business travelers and convention guests alike.
Since opening its doors over a century ago, The Benson has been around to see the constant evolution and growth of its home, the city of Portland. With the nature of such a landmark hotel and its location right in the heart of Portland, the idea of creating an exhibit to showcase local history, art, and to be a guide through all the city’s fascinations was incontestable. The Historic Stairwell was created in 2019 as a unique guest experience to educate, delight and inspire guests and visitors alike.