Wednesday, December 19, 2012

fountain, benson tower

Fountain, Benson Tower
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Some unremarkable photos of the fountain in front of the Benson Tower condo building in downtown Portland. Water features like this are actually kind of rare downtown; usually developers elect to put in retail space instead. So when I was putting together a list of downtown fountains, this one came to mind and I put it on a todo list as a definite maybe. I'm rather bad at removing things from todo lists even when they don't turn out to be that spectacular in real life (like this one), so I figured I might as well go ahead and do the post anyway.

Fountain, Benson Tower

The Benson Tower is so named because it used to be home to the historic Simon Benson House, which was moved to the Portland State campus a few years ago to make room for this shiny new condo tower. I mention this because I came across someone's old photo of the house at its original location, probably taken sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s, around the time I was going to PSU. As you can see, the house was a ramshackle gothic horror at the time, and I'm still surprised they were able to move it without it crumbling into dust or exposing a hellmouth or something.

Also pictured is the late, lamented TeleCafe, a tiny, literally hole-in-the-wall coffee joint, (sorta-)famed for having a real, live land-line telephone on every table. Which would actually be way more exotic and ironic now than it was then. I don't recall whether the coffee was any good or not. At some point in the 90s it changed hands and became something like "Bag End" or "Hobbit Hole" or something along those lines. It's just as well the condo builders came, in a way, since the owners of the Hobbit trademark are legendarily sue-happy, especially now that Part I of the huge Hollywood big-budget movie version is out now.

The shiny new and relocated edition of the house is home to the PSU alumni association and has no room for a disreputable semi-underground coffee house. Here's another photo, this one showing the vacant lot before the Benson Tower went in. The Tip Top Cleaners building in the background was also demolished to make room for condos; I have no particular memories of it, except that I seem to recall it had a cool retro neon sign out front. FWIW.

Fountain, Benson Tower Fountain, Benson Tower Fountain, Benson Tower Fountain, Benson Tower

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