written by Julie Lee | photos by Kathleen Nyberg
The McMenamin brothers have made an art of turning old buildings into culturally interesting hotels. Old St. Francis School is not an exception, rather exceptional. The 1936 converted Catholic schoolhouse is a central gathering spot in the heart of Bend with a movie theater, secret rooms and eclectic charm. This is a best-kept secret in the lineup of McMenamins’ lodging options with its own storage of secrets—the newly anointed Art and Ed houses feature secret hallways, secret rooms and a secret bar. A fun afternoon of discovering these rooms can be rewarded with a drink in the secret bar. Hint: push the broom.
700 NW Bond St.
There are nineteen rooms in the main house and two new additions on site—the Education House, named for St. Francis School’s teachers, and the Art House, pushing the room count to sixty. All rooms have private bathrooms, and some feature patios, suites and kitchenettes. Artists’ works are a central feature in each room and throughout the hotel, paying tribute to the history of the school.
This is Bend, so rigorous daytime activities abound. Afterward, you can relax in the Old St. Francis soaking pool, where kids are welcome until 7 p.m., when it becomes an adult oasis. In typical McMenamins fashion, the water in the pool is eco-friendly and saltwater-based, so you can feel good inside and out. Be sure to check out the stained glass window in the Ed House at sunrise or sunset.
Old St. Francis has enough enticing dining options that you’ll never need to go off campus for a great meal. O’Kanes Restaurant and Bar is a tiny bar, literally, set in the former Catholic school house garage. The aforementioned Broom Closet Bar in the Art House is a great place to hole up for a hot toddy as snow falls. Old St. Francis Pub in the main building serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with fantastic pub fare and handcrafted ale, brewed on site and underfoot by head brewer, accidental tour guide and overall good guy Mike “Curley” White.
Like many hotels these days, Old St. Francis School welcomes pets for a small fee. The movie theater is an inviting place to relax and catch a flick, and live music is featured many nights.