Reva, Suzy, Gerrie and I went out the Columbia Gorge to the Maryhill Museum today. It is was a perfect autumn day, sunny and warm and the sky was a brilliant blue. Great day for a road trip. Leaving Portland, the Gorge is a lush landscape of evergreen forest, waterfalls and looming rock cliffs along both banks of the vast Columbia River. The further east you go, the dryer and more spare the landscape becomes, with wind farms along the tops of the cliffs. About two hours after leaving Portland, you come to a bridge crossing over the river into Washington state and, quite out of place, a huge mansion sitting atop the cliff, high above the river. The Maryhill Museum.
This place was created just after the turn of the 20th century by railroad executive and road builder, Sam Hill. It was named for his daughter, Mary, and was to be his home. He envisioned a community, a center of commerce, growing up around it on the banks of the mighty river. Before the house was finished, his marriage had failed and it had become clear that no one else shared his dream of a thriving community on those barren cliffs. He would never live in the grand house. His friend, the dancer Loie Fuller, convinced him to turn the structure into an art museum. Another friend, Queen Marie of Romania, supported the idea and came to the Gorge to dedicate the museum in 1926. But due to construction delays and Hill's death in 1931, the museum did not actually open until 1940.
We arrived at the museum hungry today, and found the small cafe on the lower floor. We took our lunches out onto a patio to eat in the sunshine, joined by one of the many peacocks that roam the property.
We were told not to feed the peacocks and tried to ignore this fellow's longing looks at our sandwiches.
With our hunger satisfied, we were ready to start exploring this very eclectic museum.
More to come . . .