Kennedy School set to open hotel with a nod to literary history

Kennedy School set to open hotel with a nod to literary history
The influences of Mike McMenamin can be found throughout the new hotel at the Kennedy School in Northeast Portland. (Photo courtesy Portland Business Journal)

McMenamins Hotels, Pubs & Breweries celebrates literature as it readies its new hotel wing at The Kennedy School, its popular Northeast Portland dining, pub and lodging center.

McMenamins debuts its new 22-room hotel addition with a public party Thursday evening. Each room is themed around a book, selected by Mike McMenamin, a suitable tribute to the former school at 5736 N.E. 33rd Ave.

Mike McMenamin’s handiwork is on display not just on the bookshelves and tributes to authors that line the property, but in the quirky touches packed into the two-story building. Dozens of vintage style light fixtures hang at random intervals in the hallways, welcoming guests with a cluttered antique-store vibe.

More: A look behind the scenes of the Kennedy School addition

The placement was deliberate.

“I think we’re all tired of schoolhouse lights going straight down the hallway,” McMenamin explained.

The 22 new rooms boost The Kennedy School’s overnight lodging to 57 rooms and provide added capacity to host weddings and other events.

Pacific Crest Construction Inc. built the addition on the southeast corner of the school property — in place of a former portable classroom.

Rooms are available for guests starting Friday but don’t plan an overnight visit until 2013. Manager Cynthia Gonzalez said it is booked for the rest of the month. McMenamins books its own business and does not use online or other reservation systems, she said.

Grand opening festivities are open to all ages and begin at 5 p.m. Thursday. Jake Ray and the Cow Dogs will provide the music. Brian Doyle, among Mike McMenamin's favorite authors, will read from a book. Tours will be available throughout the evening.

Mike McMenamin and brother Brian salvaged the former elementary school from oblivion some 20 years after Portland Public Schools shuttered it in 1975 in the face of declining enrollment. The renovated property opened Oct. 22, 1997.

McMenamins, a privately-held Portland restaurant, pub and entertainment business, operates about 55 properties in Oregon and Washington.