Skip to main content
View of Hood River Living Room Ornate Staircase Carving Penthouse Rooftop Seating Penthouse Rooftop Jetted Tub Penthouse Rooftop Views

About Our Hood River Hotel

The Hood River culture today revolves around water and the mountains.  Hood River has become the year-round playground for those who enjoy windsurfing, kiteboarding, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, kayaking, and mountain biking.  Visitors today enjoy the unsurpassed scenic views and some of the finest restaurants, wineries, distilleries, breweries, and cideries the Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Thistledown on Oak Hood River Hotel is nested on the top floors of the historic First National Bank Building and the historic Heilbronner Building.  Today these historic buildings are both listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

First National Bank in Hood RiverThe First National Bank Building and the Heilbronner Building were built in 1910 during the height of Hood River’s secondary developmental building boom.  These two buildings became the prominent corners in the commercial center of downtown.  3rd and Oak became known as the “Banking Corner” while 3rd and Cascade became known as the “Commercial Block.”  Not only were these two buildings the largest and most prominent in downtown Hood River but they both also played pivotal roles in the history of Hood River. 

In 1910, the local newspaper “The Hood River News,” touted the First National Bank Building as:

. . . the best structure in the City and a credit to towns of much larger populations.  The architectural beauty of the building make it a double credit being useful and at the same time an ornament to the City.  The materials used in the building are the best and it is substantial as well as handsome.  The exterior is of pressed brick decorated with sand and terra cotta work.  The windows throughout are plate glass and the trimmings throughout the building are modern and creditable. 

Another article stated:

The new banking room . . .  is one of the handsomest in the state, and also one of the most commodious.  Its appointments are both attractive and substantial.  The ceiling is handsomely finished with a beamed effect and tinted.  Drop electric lights with brass hangings and frosted globes furnish ample light.  The entrance to the bank is plain but rich and the whole is indicative of good taste and progressiveness.

Contractors J.M. Wright and L.M. Bentley completed the new First National Bank in September 1910 for a cost of about $40,000.  The Bank was the only financial institution in Hood River that did not close during the Great Depression and played an important role in the early growth and stability of Hood River.

The Bank Building not only served the town’s banking needs but also housed the Hood River Commercial Club, an organization formed to promote the business affairs of the community, and better the physical and commercial aspects of the local merchants, businesses in the region, as well as hold large prestigious social functions.  The Commercial Club was organized around 1905, promoting Hood River until about 1926 when the Club was reorganized into the Chamber of Commerce.  The second floor of the Bank Building was designed specifically for the needs of the Commercial Club and included not only a large assembly hall that could accommodate large gatherings up to 300 people, but also offices, women’s and men’s lounges, game rooms and a billiard room.

The local newspaper, “The Hood River News,” described the Commercial Club’s new home this way: 

In the front of the building is the men's lounging room and also a large room that has been assigned to the use of the Women's Club.  Both apartments are handsomely furnished with leather-covered mission furniture, velvet carpets and velvet window hangings, with the walls and ceilings tinted to harmonize with the furnishings . . .  The assembly hall is furnished with all conveniences for holding meetings or accommodating other large assemblages . . . and [is] fitted with handsome chairs, electric light fixtures and other convenience for the use of the meetings.  There is a card room and billiard room which has already been equipped with modern billiard and pool tables, cork flooring, and other adjuncts that will add to the pleasure and convenience of the players.  The furnishings and fittings for the rooms throughout [are] handsome and tasteful, and when opened for use the new club rooms will give Hood River the social and business home it has long needed.

First National Bank in Hood RiverThe Heilbronner Block was erected in 1910 by developer Julian Heilbronner who hired local architect Robert H. Bartlett and builder Louis Daniel Boyd at a cost of $35,000.  The Heilbronner Block was distinctive among the other new buildings being constructed in Hood River at the time; never had so much glass dominated a building’s façade in downtown Hood River.  The Heilbronner is the only building in Hood River that used a steel-frame structural system.  The steel columns between the bays and the riveted steel header support the upper two stories.  The new business block housed 4 retail spaces on the first floor, 16 offices on the second floor, and a community hall with one of the largest dance floors outside of Portland.  The Heilbronner Block was a testament to the wealth and sophistication of the early residents of Hood River as they invested in the future of the small Columbia River community.

A newspaper article in The Hood River News described it this way:

The new Heilbronner building has been thrown open for occupancy and now constitutes a structure inside and out that is one of the best and most convenient business blocks in the state outside of Portland.

The store rooms on the ground floor have been fitted with large show windows, wide entrances and several of them with fireproof vaults.

The second floor contains sixteen offices.  The offices are all handsomely finished in Oregon fir and lighted with large windows with ball bearings.  Toilets for both women and men are supplied and a detail that was particularly looked after is the heating of the building which has the best apparatus of this kind that it was possible to supply.

The big hall on the top floor is now finished.  It is laid with a rock maple floor and will be equipped otherwise to make it one of the most complete in the state.  In size it is one of the largest in Oregon, outside of Portland.  The owners of the building are in communication with Professor Christensen, the well-known dancing master of Portland, and it is expected that he will start a dancing class here during the winter, both afternoon and evening.  The afternoon to be devoted to children and the evening to adults.  It is possible also that dances will be given intervals during the winter season under his auspices.

As stated on the National Register, in 1918 the Knights of Pythias purchased the buildings for use as their hall.  The building became known as the Knights of Pythias Hall.

Principles of the Knights of Pythias were “FRIENDSHIP, CHARITY and BENEVOLENCE.”  These principles were based on the story of the friendship of Damon and Pythias, historical figures living about four hundred years before the time of Christ.  Damon had opposed the pretensions of the King of Syracuse, who had gained the throne by fraud.  Pythias became a hostage for Damon.  Each was willing to die to save the other’s life.  Both were members of a school, founded by Pythagoras, the father of Greek philosophy.  The school taught the two men that the most excellent things for humans to do were to “speak the truth and to render benefits to each other.”

The Knights of Pythias began during the Civil War.  The founders believed that the brotherhood could heal the civil and moral conflicts of the war.  President Abraham Lincoln, aware of the organization’s ritual and teachings, said:

The purposes of your organization are most wonderful.  If we could but bring its spirit to all our citizenry, what a wonderful thing it would be.  It breathes the spirit of Friendship, Charity and Benevolence.  It is one of the best agencies conceived for the upholding of government, honoring the flag, for reuniting of our brethren of the North and of the South, for teaching the people to love one another, and portraying the sanctity of the home and loved ones.

By 1920, the Lodge was in their new hall in the “Pythian Building,” formerly known as the Heilbronner Block.  The Knights of Pythias used the building for their functions as well as for community events.

The following 80 years of use caused the First National Bank Building and the Heilbronner to fall into disrepair.  Alterations during the 1960’s and 1970’s covered up many of the unique original features of the buildings.  In 1998, Bradford and Sarah Perron purchased both buildings with a mission to restore them back to their original glory.  It has been a 25-year dream to convert the attic of the First National Bank Building into a Penthouse with a rooftop deck, enjoying the panoramic views of downtown, the Columbia River, and the mountain range. 

Hood River has become such a popular tourist destination that Bradford and Sarah are slowly converting the top floors of both buildings into the 19th-century-themed boutique hotel.  With the completion of the Penthouse, the Emerald Juliet, and the Griffin’s Loft, Bradford and Sara are proud to share the beginnings of their dream, “Thistledown on Oak Hotel.”

Development History of Hood River

Mary and National Coe were the first permanent Euro-American settlers in Hood River, claiming a 319.92-acre donation land claim in 1854.  The Coe home served as the community center, courthouse, church, funeral parlor, and post office.  Dependent on the Columbia River for transportation, Hood River developed slowly until 1882 when W.W.R. & N Co. Railway was completed through the Columbia River Gorge along the south side of the river.  The railroad connected the small river community with other towns in the region and eventually the country.  Platted in 1881 in anticipation of the coming of the railroad, the town grew around the railroad depot. 

Incorporated in 1895, the population continued to grow as the fertile lands of the Hood River Valley were gradually cleared and cultivated.  The completion of the Mount Hood Railroad from Hood River south 20 miles to Parkdale in 1910 further improved transportation from the interior of the fertile Hood River Valley to the City of Hood River; the commercial and industrial center of the region.

The Hood River Commercial Club was organized at this time publishing brochures touting attributes of the community.  The 1907 slight financial recession also caused an influx of people into the Hood River Valley as investors from the East Coast moved to Hood River, bought farms, cleared land and planted orchards.  By 1908, the Hood River region separated from Wasco County and became Hood River County; a testament to the prosperity of the area.  The population grew from 622 people in 1900 to about 3,000 by 1910.

Select your travel dates & No. of people. Check Availability and click the Book Now link for your selected room