The Hood River News, Hood River, OR., June 24, 1921, page 1


     On Saturday, the Columbia Gorge Hotel, built by Simon Benson as an example of what a tourist hotel should be, and managed by Henry Thiele, the well known chef of the Benson Hotel, a Portland, was opened to the public, the event being celebrated at a reception at which over 1000 people of Hood River and Portland, and other sections of the state were present during the afternoon and evening.
     The guests were welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Simon Benson and Henry Thiele, and in the main dining hall, many beautiful floral tributes testified to the popularity of the Bensons and Henry Thiele. A fine orchestra was present and a large number of the visitors took advantage of an opportunity to dance on the new floor, which has been specially laid for this purpose. A buffet lunch was served during the afternoon and a big crowd of helpers saw to it that every visitor went away satisfied.
     Mayor and Mrs. Scobee and Councilman and Mrs. Keir presented a basket of beautiful flowers on behalf of the city and a find floral tribute was sent from the Commercial club. In the evening, the Kiwanis club of Portland sent down a deputation of several hundreds and a banquet was an indulged in, the celebration being continued to well on into the night.
     The Columbia Gorge Hotel, which cost over $300,000 to build, is located on the ground formerly occupied covered by the old Wau-Gwin-Gwin hotel, the home for many years of Robert Rand and his family. It is located on the edge of a steep bluff overlooking the falls of Phelps creek, which at this spot leap over a bluff to the rocks over 100 feet below. It commands a magnificent view of the Columbia River gorge and extensive landscapes on the Washington side of the river. The ground floor includes a great dining hall, in which 600 persons can be seated, a closed in verandah running nearly the entire depth of the building on the north side and overlooking the Columbia river, lobby, reception and ladies room and a kitchen more up to date than any of its kind in Oregon. Harmony and good taste are everywhere reflected in furniture, hangings, rugs and decorations, a color scheme of ivory and blue being maintained. The kitchen was, especially among the women visitors, the center of attraction, and Henry Thiele was untiring in his efforts to afford all an opportunity to fully understand all the accessories at that go to make his kitchen the best in the West.
     On the second floor, as on the third, the entire level is given over to sleeping accommodations, there being 48 bedrooms, and here too the prevailing scheme of color design is ivory and blue or ivory and salmon pink. Each room has its own bath, and the furnishings offer a maximum of comfort. Each bedroom is so arranged as to give plenty of light and air, and those rooms on the north side offer superb views.
     An observation tower on the roof of the building is just 100 feet above the ground level and this will be in great demand for the fine view of the Columbia Gorge which it furnishes.
     The grounds are still much in the same shape as they were in the days of the old hotel, but under the supervision of Engineer Newell they are to be landscaped and tennis courts and croquet lawns will be made. The hotel is the first unit and as business warrants and the praises of the new building are carried across the continent, new units will be added.

©  Jeffrey L. Elmer