Most of my friends know that I mourn the loss of one of Oregon's oldest shopping heavens, Meier & Frank. It had something for everyone in all price ranges. It was sold in the 1960s to the May Company, but that organization made the smart decision to keep the name everyone knew. Then the end came. The store closed a few years ago when a competing retail giant bought them out, along with some other beloved department stores around the country including Foleys, Filene's (not Filene's Basement) and a few more. Because M&F's flagship store, built in 1908, is on the National Historic Registry, someone decided it was worth "saving." The first five floors are occupied by the retailer. The upper floors were gutted, an atrium was installed, and it was turned into a luxury boutique hotel, The Nines. The exterior might look the same--the inside, well, no attempt was made to preserve the history of the building. This photo is very old, taken before the top floor was expanded to cover the whole building.
A friend of mine had ankle surgery nearly six weeks ago and hasn't been able to sleep in her own bed (on the second floor of her home) or take a shower (also upstairs) in all that time. She's been sleeping on a fold-out and taking sponge baths in a kiddie pool in her kitchen. So I had a brainstorm. Let's go see about The Nines.
The staff was great, as was the service. But the interior seemed minimalist. The only thing I recognized in my room were the windows, painted shut and still bearing the same hardware on the window frames. The rest of the decor was eclectic. In my head, when I hear words like eclectic, or whimsical in reference to food or decor, I tend to wince. Okay, so I'm a hopeless romantic and traditionalist--I love beautiful china, glassware, silver, linens, etc. One of the vacations on my bucket list is a trip to the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. And one of my favorite local spots is the Pittock Mansion, which has been meticulously restored to its glory days of the early 1900s. What can I say? I write historical fiction for a good reason.
Meier & Frank belongs to the ages now. To paraphrase Rose in Titanic, it was the department store of dreams.