History of the Harlow Block
Captain John Harlow, a prominent Portland businessman and one of the founders of Troutdale Oregon, opened the Harlow Block in 1882. The building is the first brick structure erected north of Burnside street and west of 4th and the second oldest commercial building remaining in NW Portland. It is a well-preserved example of Italianate architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
John Harlow was a sea captain from Maine, who came to Oregon in 1849 and eventually settled here, opening up trout farms and thereby giving Troutdale its name. Harlow built the hotel in downtown Portland hoping to cash in on the coming transcontinental railroad station just blocks away. At the time the building was known as Grand Central Station Portland, and was then later renamed Union Station.
Building the Harlow Block was the final business project of Captain Harlow, as he passed shortly after its opening in 1883. Captain Harlow’s wife Celeste took over the property in 1883 and continued the success of both the hotel and the retail space on the first floor.
During the early years, the hotel Grand Central, as it was named, featured exceptional accommodations and décor spawned by a period of prosperity that came with the building of Union station just four blocks away. The first to occupy the shop spaces was a saloon named the East Park Exchange. Located next to the saloon was a barbershop and the hotel’s office. Occasionally a restaurant made an appearance in the space as well.
By the early 1890s the hotel began to suffer due to a national economic crisis. The hotel changed its name to Harlow and began catering to the working class as a lodging house, renting out furnished rooms. Most of the retail space remained vacant until after the turn of the century.
In 1902 Celeste sold the property. The name changed to the Park Hotel and the saloon reopened as the Park Saloon. With the exception of the saloon, shop spaces were vacant by the middle of the first decade of the century. In 1921, the block became known as the Muckle building. Between 1921 and the closing of its doors in the 1970’s the hotel was occupied by Japanese proprietors.
2019 marks the reopening of the Harlow Block, this time as our newly renovated Harlow Hotel. Dedication has been taken to preserve the historic details and uniqueness of the building. We are beyond excited to re-ignite the story and invite you to stay a night and become a part of the next chapter.