Will this put Bothell on the map?
Even if it doesn’t put Bothell on the map quite yet, you should put a visit to this place on your calendar. I’m talking about the new McMenamins Anderson School in Bothell. Driving by the place on NE Bothell Way, you would think it is still a school. Above the main entrance, it only says W. A. Anderson, 18607A. However, I wasn’t fooled and turned into the mega-church-size parking lot. Considering it was just after noon on a Friday and the place had only been open for three weeks, I did not expect to spent the next ten minutes spying for promising red tail lights to snag a spot.
…continued below slide show
The McMenamins Anderson School opened for business on October 15th. I had no idea what to expect, and everything I encountered was unexpected, starting with the ornately folksy main sign. Finally, I found a spot to park at the far end of the lot. Across a not-yet-finished creek was more overflow parking that belongs to the Pop Keeney Stadium. I admit having to “google” that name as well as Anderson School. The stadium is named after Bothell’s first football coach Harold ‘Pop’ Keeney, whose family belongs to the pioneers of Bothell. The city itself is named after David Bothell, a settler from Pennsylvania.
I wandered first somewhat aimlessly across the vast parking lot wondering what was inside of the many buildings on the grounds. Soon, I discovered that not finding entrances easily must be part of the master plan. A cottage like building caught my eye as a possible visitor information center. Instead, what I found was a cozy ski-lodge-like bar with a few tables. Outside, the court yard’s winding walkways connected several gazebos with tables and working fire pits.
The principal’s office is a bar.
While I enjoyed the sight and sounds, I reminded myself that I hadn’t come here for the smells of autumn but to inspect a school converted into a hotel. The entrance was to the side with the only sign announcing the rules of conduct for the Northshore School District – no skateboarding, no trespassing after dusk. Walking up the wide stairway I felt more like finding my new classroom than a hotel room. I was looking for the lobby with a registration desk, but I found neither. Instead, I found myself in a hallway with dozens of light fixtures of different shapes and colors. In addition to numbers on the doors, the room doors displayed artfully the names of prominent Bothellites connected to the school. Bothell memorabilia and works by Bothell artists is on display in the halls and the rooms. An open door to a room which was being cleaned afforded me a glimpse inside. What struck me was the ornately painted headboard, somewhat eclectic furnishings and very tall windows, a reminder of the room’s earlier use.
Another reminder was the sign pointing to the principal’s office. Being sent there now isn’t all bad. It has been converted into an intimate bar for the guests of the 72-room hotel. Let’s hope they don’t go there all at once. Standard room rates range from $155 to $195 for double occupancy. There are two upgrades – “Beer 101” and “Web Hammerhead Package.” Use of the community swimming pool is included.
It all began with beer.
Leaving the lobby-less hotel, I wondered if there was a front desk. I found it off the courtyard in a one-story building that houses one of the three restaurants and a gift shop. Inside the front desk office, the personnel was equally helpful and cheerful. I left armed with instructive literature and maps. My hunger for information having been filled, I searched for a different kind of nourishment. I found it in another low building on the west side of the courtyard, called the Woodshop. Filled near capacity, I took a seat at the expansive bar. The number of beer tabs bespoke the history of the hosting company.
The McMenamins brothers Mike and Brian began as beer brewers and opened the first of many brew pubs in their native Portland in 1974, the Produce Row Café. Today, the company is one of the top 50 craft breweries in the United States.
I enjoyed one of their Hammerhead drafts along with my dinner-size salad. The service was as efficient as it was friendly. It was clear that everybody working there knew that they were part of something special. I looked around and saw patrons of all ages. Even the pool tables and shuffleboards seemed not out of place.
I left the pub in search of the pool. I found it and more in the other two-story building with a sign saying North Shore Lagoon. The full-size, salt water pool has been the training ground for Olympic gold medal winners. Today it is still a public venue free to Bothell residents and reserved for hotel guests from 8 to 10 in the morning. The tropical air and atmosphere of the pool extend to the second floor with a South Sea style bar that stocks more than 80 varieties of rum.
But wait, there is more!
The appeal of the late night infomercials applies to this sprawling 5-acre complex. I did not see all the restaurants, bars, the meeting rooms and the movie theater. What I did see was an eclectic, somewhat quirky and imaginative place, worth discovering. One of the upcoming events is “Breakfast with Santa” for kids and adults, held December 5 and 12. Get your tickets right here.
I don’t know how Santa will get there but in case you are planning a visit, the address is 18607 Bothell Way NE, Bothell 98011. And yes, McMenamins has an app!
Published first November 30th, 2015 as the 57th edition of The View from the Street.