Wednesday, July 11, 2012/lk
Wine pours where the planning department used to be, and the former city administration building has a new life.
The Gallery at 301 opened last week as a place for local art and Spanish tapas, where it used to be water bills and land use plats.
Owners Steffen Lunding and Claudia Lane bought the building, at 301 Oak, from the city and began remodeling it Jan. 2 after city offices consolidated in the renovated City Hall at Second and State. Built in 1927, it started as Butler Bank Building.
Lunding and Lane welcomed their first customers July 3 and greeted a large crowd on July 6 for First Friday.
Tapas prepared by Chef Mark Whitehead of Blossoms Catering highlight the menu, and plates of cheeses, meats, chorizo and many other Iberian-inflected light fare are served along with wine and beer.
Gallery at 301 is open each evening, with an expanded schedule and menu later this summer.
The space itself is a major part of the draw, as the owners made major renovations, most notably removing the false ceiling and creating a broad new stairway at the north end of the interior.
Newly visible and functional, the mezzanine features extensive seating looking out over recrafted railings using oak salvaged from the old stairway. The railings are new metalwork done in the same architectural style by A.E. Doyle.
The gallery has three new ADA-compliant bathrooms and all new electrical, plumbing, HV/AC, insulation and windows.
“This was a significant example of 1920s architecture,” Lunding said, “a very special thing, and it suffered 90 years of abuse to all its systems, the copper ceiling, railings, everything was butchered or cut out and thrown away over time.
“We’ve been able to have enough of the original bits to piece together, in a bit of forensic archaeology, to re-dramatize one of (Doyle’s) architectural jewels.
“We tried to preserve it and keep its integrity,” he said. “It’s been a thrill doing the building and it’s also been a thrill to give something to the community. It is a gem for Hood River.”
Now the old bank and office space is “a gallery that is unplugged, a place where people can come and hear their friends talk. We want it to be about the eyes, ears and palate,” Lunding said.