Sitting atop a cliff overlooking the Columbia River Gorge sits a house that is fairly easy to miss. Often mistaken for a private house or a winery building it is in fact an art museum. The Maryhill Museum of Art is open to the public and one of the best things to visit in the area.
It was built starting in 1914 by Samuel Hill a local business man and lawyer who had quite a bit of money and quite a bit of influence in early 20th Century Oregon and Washington. He was a very well educated man, who once took classes from Henry Cabot Lodge (who was an American Senator who staunchly apposed the signing of the Treaty of Versailles and the inspiration for Veronica Lodges father in the Archie Comic series). And was very well traveled and well connected overseas having made good friends with the likes of Albert I of Belguim and Queen Marie of Romania.
The house had originally been intended to be lived in by the Hill family in order to entertain Hill’s wealthy friends however due to the entrance of the United States into WWI the building of the house was put on hold. The unfinished house was dedicated by Queen Marie in 1926 but not opened to the public until 1940 which was 9 years after Sam Hill’s passing.
Due to Hill’s friendships and connections the museum now houses quite a few personal effects of Queen Marie herself as well as a large collection of Rodin’s sculptures (another friend of Hill’s). It also houses a very nice collection of Pacific Northwest Native artifacts and history as well as the puppets and sets from Theatre de la Mode a mostly forgotten WWII French haute couture collection which was created by the great fashion houses of the time which premiered in the Louvre’s Museum of Decorative Arts in 1945.
Aside from an astounding amount of history the location itself is stunning. Complete with a cafe and well manicured grounds it is the perfect place to stop off on your way to somewhere or to adventure out to from Portland just for the day.