Built in 1925, the Commodore was originally a travelers' hotel for passengers waiting to board the ferries that crossed the Columbia River to Washington state. In 1965, the owner unexpectedly boarded up the building and walked away. Forty years later, Paul Caruana, Brian Faherty and Lance Marrs took over the dormant establishment and gave it a new lease on life.
When the three developers unlocked the door in 2007, they found themselves stepping back into a bygone era. It took a year and a half and $1.5 million to bring the place into the present, with the architectural assistance of Cannon Beach-based Ecola Architects and interior design by Portland-based Osmose Design. In May 2009, the Commodore reopened for business.
The hotel interior sports a distinct maritime feel combined with a pinch of Scandinavian minimalism. Osmose Design created an entire wall in the lobby displaying objects unearthed during renovation. While the original version of the Commodore had 30+ rooms, the reincarnated hotel features eight larger rooms with ensuite bathrooms and 10 smaller 'cabins' with a European-style set-up, with shared toilets and showers down the hall. Prices range from $69 to $89 for the smaller rooms, and $129 to $179 for the larger suites.
I asked developer Lance Marrs about the process of bringing the Commodore into the 21st century without letting go of its rich history.
Charlotte West is a design writer who recently returned to the United States after six years abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. She writes for a number of publications in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Sweden. Her work has appeared in Icon, Step, Varoom, Budget Travel and Men's Journal. She is also an editor at large for Elemente magazine in Canada. Charlotte lives in Seattle with two Norwegian forest cats.
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