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The Heathman Hotel

    The Heathman Hotel
 in PortlandHistory: 
    The Heathman Hotel
 in Portland


The city of Portland began rather inauspiciously in 1843 when William Overton and Boston lawyer Asa Lovejoy beached their canoe on the banks of the Willamette River. Lacking funds, Overton borrowed twenty-five cents from Lovejoy to stake the claim and promised him a share in the claim in return. Soon bored, Overton sold his share to Frances Pettyjohn, a native of Portland, Maine. Overton and Pettyjohn disagreed on whose hometown would become the inspiration for their newly cleared land and decided to flip a coin – the “Portland Penny”- to settle the issue. Pettyjohn, bested his partner and the die was cast.

Portland’s early years were full of lively characters, such as Sweet Mary, the madam of the town’s floating bordello, and Joseph “Bunco” Kelly, a notorious hotelier who intoxicated local young men and sold them to ship captains in need of crew members. The turn of the last century ushered in an era of considerably more respectability and prosperity. The burgeoning lumber mills made millionaires out of men like Simon Benson, who personally commissioned twenty elegant drinking fountains for the downtown area when he discovered his workers were imbibing alcohol during the day, due to a lack of fresh drinking water.

The Heathman Hotel has remained a cultural fixture since opening in 1927, welcoming travelers to Portland with timeless hospitality bound in tradition and a rich appreciation of the arts. Today, nearly a century later, the Heathman has begun a new chapter under a gleaming renovation that pays homage to the city’s beloved history and the hotel’s role as muse to generations of travelers.

The Heathman Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 1991, dates back to 1927.

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