Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Ten years later, we meet up at another McMenamins

Blogging has produced many rewards over the years, chief among them the people I've met and friendships I've made. Ten years ago I met Peter (the Outlaw) when he and his then partner Tom paid a visit to my garden, it was Peter's birthday (a big round number) and they made a trip down to Portland. After a leisurely stroll and lots of chatting we then ventured over to McMenamins Kennedy School for lunch. I remember that afternoon like it was yesterday, and frankly I have a hard time accepting that it was ten years ago. But it was...

During our recent trip up the Tacoma/Seattle area we again met up with Peter to celebrate a big round number birthday of his, this time at McMenamins Elks Temple in downtown Tacoma. I regret that I didn't ask Andrew to take a photo of Peter and I, but c'est la vie. Instead I give you photos of the building and it's plantings...

Complete with a strange hungover kitty...

Andrew and I were the first to arrive. While he grabbed a table, I snapped a few photos, like this one of an underused lot next door which has been taken over as gardening space for McMenamins.

Veggies and a gravel walkway, which I suspect is under development.

The Elks Temple sits above Commencement Bay, home to Tacoma's working port.

I suspect this little parking lot (marked as not available for public parking) is for some staff, service vehicles and probably for the performers at the Elk's Temple—there was a band performing the night we were there. What really interested me in this photo were the steps up to the garden area I shared above. They seem to indicate this area will be even better utilized in the future.

I knew Peter would be arriving soon so I made my way back around to the front of the building to greet him, and of course to photograph the agaves...

Agave desmetiana 'Variegata' which is not hardy in my Portland garden but will probably be okay here in the city and near Puget Sound.

Then I hit pause on the photo taking while we ate and drank and caught up—but now we're back outside and checking out the backside of the building. The elk has some fancy new horns...

Sidewalk-side plantings below the elk...

The Spanish steps. As I understand it the steps are not technically part of the Elks Temple, however there is outside dining all along where ever a table can be squeezed in.

There are also more plants, and more agaves!

Agave bracteosa...

It was too dark to take photos of the plantings to the left of the steps, but I tried. 

In true McMenamins fashion there were plants in pots and hung on the railings. 
This is probably also a good spot for a "A Little History"... stolen directly from their website: "The Elks Temple was built in the second Renaissance Revival style in 1915-16 when fraternal organizations were an important part of the community and had the money to build beautiful buildings such as this one. It was designed by É. Frère Champney, a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places."

And..."The Spanish Steps: Climbing the hillside adjacent to the building is a stairway called the Spanish Steps. Modeled after the Scalinata di Spagna in Rome, Tacoma’s Spanish Steps were constructed in 1916 to connect a streetcar line on Broadway with City Hall on Commerce Street. The staircase fell into disrepair in the 1950s and continued to degrade until it was rehabilitated by the City of Tacoma in 2011."

A huge monkey puzzle tree—Araucaria araucana. Many in the Pacific Northwest can be traced back to the Chilean exhibition at Portland, Oregon's 1905 World's Fair, where they were given away as seedlings and planted throughout the area. 

Looking to where we'd just been, down towards the bay,,,

And now back at the front door our evening draws to a close...

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. What a terrific building. Most of what remains of architecture from that era is noteworthy. Always impressed at how serious this group is about landscaping their properties compared to most businesses and developers. Love the fact that Monkey Puzzle trees were given away.

    1. The McMenamins get my undying loyalty based on the value they place on plants and gardens—as well as the fact they save beautiful old buildings from being destroyed.

  2. All the McMenamins' establishments are impressive. I wish they'd find themselves a site down this way someday. I'm glad you had a chance to get together with Peter. I miss the wonderful sense of humor that always spilled from his blog posts.

    1. That humor is definitely still there in person, perhaps he'll return to blogging someday?

  3. Hope Peter is doing well. Like Kris, above, I miss his humorous posts.

    1. Peter seems to be doing very well, I wish I would have been able to visit his garden during this trip.

  4. Thank you again for a wonderful evening to celebrate a decade of friendship. The proteas you gave me are still bringing a smile every time I pass them. Like you, I find it difficult to think that that first meeting was 10 years ago already.

    1. I love how long lasting a fresh protea flower can be, and thank you so much for meeting up with us!

  5. What a gorgeous building and what a great place to meet up with friends. Wish more hotels had such charm.

    1. My only regret was that we didn't stay at this hotel!


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