You Won’t Believe What Pioneer Courthouse Square Looked Like In 1890

Historical Hotel Portland built in 1890

Pioneer Courthouse Square is sometimes called 'Portland's Living Room'. It's a great place to relax, hang out, or meet up in downtown Portland. Pioneer Square has been a popular place to host events such as holiday ale festivals, concerts, education exhibitions, and other community led programs. The area has an interesting history that not many people know about.

The Hotel Portland took up an entire city block. Today the area is known as Pioneer Courthouse Square. Aerial photo by twelvizm via Flickr. CC2.

A Rich History

Between 1890 and 1950 the area was home to a popular hotel known as Hotel Portland. The hotel took up an entire city block, was 8 stories tall, and had 326 rooms.

Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Hotel Portland. Pioneer Square photo by drburtoni via Flickr. CC2.

The Hotel Portland was known as the place to be seen. Eleven different presidents stayed at the charming hotel, and many events were held there. The hotel restaurant served delicacies such as Welsh Rabbits, deviled crabs and lobsters, roasted oysters, and diamond back terrapin (a species of turtle).

Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Hotel Portland Courtyard. Both of these locations were/are popular places for locals to gather. Pioneer Square photo by Kevin Christopher Burke via Flickr. CC2.

Wooden sidewalks circled the entire block around the hotel, and it was a sight to be seen, giving downtown Portland a stately character. When Pioneer Courthouse Square was constructed, an iron scrollwork gate that had once been part of the Portland Hotel was used in the design of the new space.

Pioneer Courthouse Square lit up for the holidays. The Portland Hotel courtyard lit up for the Rose Festival. Pioneer Courthouse Square photo by Matthew Nenninger & Tracie Andrews via Flickr. CC2.

Sadly, the passing of years was unkind to the Portland Hotel, and it's foundations began to deteriorate. In 1951 the stately building was demolished. A new parking garage was constructed in it's place and stood for 30 years. In 1984 Pioneer Courthouse Square replaced the parking structure and brought life back to downtown Portland, revitalizing the space. Portland's Living Room has gone through many changes over the last 150 years, and it may well go through more changes, but it will always hold a special place in the heart of locals.


  1. I love old buildings and things and am always sad to see things like this. I work construction and buildings are so boring and lack craftsmanship. I just bought a house in GP and it was built in 1920 and although it’s been remodeled it still has it’s character, and I plan on taking things out like lights that are new and adding old ones back in.