Camas Hotel celebrates 100 years!

Posted on January 29th, 2011

Camas Hotel
Some things old, some things new ...

Built in 1911 by Prussian immigrant Paul Hinz, the Camas Hotel will be 100 years old this year. The hotel is the oldest commercial building in Camas, and thanks to recent renovations, is in excellent shape, in spite of having weathered heavy storms since it opened its doors as the "Commerical Hotel".

One of the hotel's rivels, the first Camas Hotel, originally stood across the street. However, in the 1930's that hotel was torn down, possibly due to fires that destroyed other buildings in that decade. After the first Camas Hotel was demolished, Paul Hinz' "Commercial Hotel" adopted the name.

Paul Hinz lived in the hotel with his wife and three children for several years after completing construction. His wife passed away while his children were still young, so he raised his three children in the hotel. He was rumoured to be very strict, according to some older Camas residents who still remember the Hinz children as their classmates.

No story in Camas would be complete without some mention about the local Paper Mill, which is an integral part of the town's history. In the 1930's the city agreed that the Crown Willamette Paper Mill could ad pulp processing, and it became a 'kraft' mill". This provided many new jobs, but unfortunately led to a distinctive odor in the town. Camas, in spite of it's charm, beauty and lovely lakes, became known for being the "stinky town across the river" to many Portlanders. This didn't help the town's hotel business, and Paul Hinz decide to fight the mill. He sought damages for the loss of business, and was awarded a settlement of $5,000 in 1932. This was a lot of money in those days, but it made Paul a somewhat unpopular man in town, due to the fact that so many people worked at the mill.

Fortunately for Camas, Georgia Pacific, who currently own the mill, installed hi-tech clean smokestacks over a decade ago so residents and visitors can enjoy fresh air along with all the many other charms of this historic riverside town.

Paul Hinz' grandaughter, Rosemary Greenlee visited Camas last year, and brought a number of old photos of her grandfather, his family and the hotel. We'll be happy to share them with you on your next visit.

A 100-year-old building is bound to house a few ghosts. There have been two sightings that I know of, one by our onsite manager, who heard a woman cry out in the basement one night (no one was there). We've heard rumours of a tragic love triangle that led to 3 deaths in Camas in the 1940's. One of the people involved was staying in the hotel. This could be one source of ghosts.

We invite you to celebrate our 100th birthday by joining us on "Centennial Sundays" with 25%off your room rates. Also, on the First Friday in March at 5:00 pm, local historian Virginia Warren will reminisce and share some colorful stores about growing up in Camas. Come and vist Oliver's new Atrium lounge on first friday if you care to learn a little more about the history of Camas.


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