If things go as planned, the historic Bingen School House by 2019 will become the center of a new, casual, hip hangout for adventurous travelers as the second location of the The Society Hotel.
The original, at 203 NW 3rd Ave. in Portland, features painted brick, natural wood, double bunk units in a hostel-like setting, or European-style private rooms.
According to a media release, the owners of Portland’s The Society Hotel has hired Waechter Architecture to design all improvement. 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 Gorge and 80-year-old schoolhouse are “an unbelievable backdrop for the retreat and a natural fit for our hybrid accommodations model.”
In the original Society Hotel, the team melded 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.
As with The Society Hotel, the Bingen property will combine features of hotel and hostel by offering both private rooms and bunkhouse accommodations in schoolhouse building.
The project plan also includes new stand-alone cabins on grounds that once served as play fields.
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 gym will continue to serve as a multipurpose room for everything from basketball to corporate meetings.
The 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. A yurt will be constructed to host retreat-style events.
The property is located close to the Bingen-White Salmon Amtrak Station at Highway 14 and Walnut Street. Society Hotel owners hope to entice guests to visit the area aboard the train. Service from Portland is $14 and takes about 90 minutes.
The Bingen School complex was designed by Pacific Northwest architect Donald J. Stewart and built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. 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.
Opened in fall 2015, The Society Hotel is a boutique hotel with a hostel component that brought fresh, new use to a 134-year-old building.