Adventurous travelers will find lodging, spa services and a sense of community at the renovated retreat at the Bingen School
The owners of Portland’s The Society Hotel are taking their successful hybrid historic hotel/hostel model to the heart of the Columbia River Gorge. The sister property will be located at the 80-year-old Bingen School in Bingen, Wash., and will welcome adventurous travelers exploring the surrounding Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The team has hired Waechter Architecture for the project. Renovations will begin in fall 2017, and the hotel is slated to open in summer 2019.
“Our historic schoolhouse has served our town, population 712, over the decades in various ways,” said Bingen Mayor Betty J. Barnes. “We’re excited to welcome the owners of The Society Hotel and see them transform the buildings into a great new destination for travelers exploring the Gorge. The Society Hotel will be a boon for our town and community.”
Jessie Burke, one of the four owners of The Society Hotel, said, “The Bingen School is the perfect property for our second Society Hotel. The Gorge is an unbelievable backdrop for the retreat and a natural fit for our hybrid accommodations model. Bingen is a sweet, historic town, and we’re excited to invest in this wonderful schoolhouse and transform it into a unique travel destination.”
OLD-MEETS-NEW, HOTEL-MEETS-HOSTEL MODEL
Like the original Society Hotel, the team will restore, renovate and revitalize the Bingen School, melding modern comfort with historical preservation. The historic schoolhouse will retain some original features while being converted into the lobby, café and guest rooms. The original multipurpose gym will also be both restored and upgraded, keeping the stage, basketball court and bleachers.
Also, similar to The Society Hotel, the new property will bridge the gap between hotel and hostel by offering both private rooms and bunkhouse accommodations in the main schoolhouse building, along with new stand-alone cabins. The three options for accommodation will appeal to a variety of travelers who are drawn to the Gorge for its incredible diversity of activities in a stunning setting – from hiking, cycling, and whitewater rafting and other watersports, to wine, beer and cider tasting, to exploring the famous Hood River County Fruit Loop and nearby Mount Hood and Mount Adams.
SOCIETY COMMUNITY AND SERVICES
Warm and welcoming community spaces are also a signature of The Society Hotel, and the new property will feature numerous gathering places for groups. The lobby will provide a bright and airy space with ample seating and a café/bar serving regional coffees, teas and pastries, as well as cocktails, beer and wine. The hallowed, original school gym will be restored and continue to serve as a multipurpose room for everything from shooting hoops to corporate meetings. 20 private cabins will be built encircling a community building with a soaking pool, sauna, hot tub, cold plunge, massage rooms and a juice bar. The team will also construct a yurt for retreat-style events.
The Society Hotel will continue to offer some special Society-Only Services (SOS) and perks. Just like at the original hotel, guests at the new location will be able to text the front desk any time of day to ask questions. Also, hotel guests who have stayed at the Portland location and enrolled in SOS will be the first to know about the opening of the new location and will receive special promotions to book a stay at the school.
The property is located close to the Bingen-White Salmon Amtrak Station at Highway 14 and Walnut Street. Service from Portland is $14 and takes about 90 minutes.
SCHOOL LESSONS IN HISTORY
The Bingen School complex was designed by Pacific Northwest architect Donald J. Stewart and built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a public work relief program that operated from 1933 to 1942 for unemployed, unmarried men as part of the New Deal. The 7,500-square-foot schoolhouse served as the school for Bingen and White Salmon, Wash., from 1938 until the 1970s.
In 1988, it was converted into a hostel, which offered private rooms and dormitory-style accommodations. It operated as the Bingen School Inn for nearly 30 years.
The Society Hotel owner Burke said, “We welcome adventurous travelers to make our one-of-a-kind, community-oriented retreat their basecamp for experiencing the spectacular Columbia River Gorge.”
About The Society Hotel
Opened in fall 2015, The Society Hotel is a boutique hotel with a hostel component set in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown. The 134-year-old building of rare design merges historic preservation and modern functionality. Its cozy yet comfortable rooms thoughtfully combine modern features with period-appropriate design, bringing upscale yet affordable lodging to the heart of Portland. The second Society Hotel is slated to open in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge in Bingen, Wash., in summer 2019. For more information, visit www.thesocietyhotel.com.