John Virginius Bennes

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John Virginius Bennes
John V. Bennes.jpg
Bennes in 1916
BornJohn Virginius Bennes
(1867-08-23)August 23, 1867
Peru, Illinois, U.S.
DiedNovember 29, 1943(1943-11-29) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Chicago
Notable workGeiser Grand Hotel
Hot Lake Hotel
Hollywood Theatre, Portland, Oregon, U.S.

John Virginius Bennes (August 23, 1867 – November 29, 1943) was an American architect who designed numerous buildings throughout the state of Oregon, particularly in Baker City and Portland. In Baker City he did an extensive redesign of the Geiser Grand Hotel, designed several homes, and a now-demolished Elks building.[1] He moved to Portland in 1907 and continued practicing there until 1942.

Bennes designed numerous projects in the Portland area, as well as in Corvallis, Prineville, and other areas of Oregon. He and his firms produced the designs for at least 20 buildings that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).[2] His work includes the design of more than 35 buildings on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis, as well as plans for 12 other building additions and renovations.[3] He also designed the administration building at Eastern Oregon University.

Bennes is also credited with design work on the Hollywood Theatre in Portland and the Liberty Theatre in Astoria. He worked with Harry A. Herzog on some of the theaters, and Albert Mercier and Lee Arden Thomas have also been credited as collaborators on some of them.[4][5]

Early life[edit]

Bennes was born in Peru, Illinois on August 23, 1867,[6] and raised in Chicago.[1] He was of Czech descent, with the original spelling of his family name being Beneš.[7] He was the cousin of Edvard Beneš, twice-President of Czechosolovakia.[7][8]

He studied at the University of Chicago[9] and spent a year abroad at the School of Fine Arts at Prague University, graduating with a degree in architecture in 1890.[1] After graduating from college, Bennes relocated from Chicago to Baker City, Oregon around 1900, where he invested in the region's gold mines.[10] On July 1, 1900, he married Alice Smalley Bennes (née Hickey; born December 4, 1876).[11]


After relocating to Baker City, Bennes began his career in architecture, redesigning the Geiser Grand Hotel, as well as designing the Elks Building and several residences. He relocated to Portland in 1906 and partnered with architects Eric W. Hendricks and Willard F. Tobey.[1] Lewis Irvine Thompson also joined the firm. Bennes was a member of the Oregon Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, serving as vice president 1920-21 and as the chapter president in 1922.[9] Bennes practiced on his own from 1914 to 1926. Then he partnered with Harry A. Herzog until 1931 and the onset of the Great Depression, when he returned to solo practice.

His design for Eastern Oregon University's Inlow Hall was a Renaissance Revival-style building that serves as an administration building, housing the admissions, registrar's, financial aid, student affairs and president's offices.[12]

Bennes designed several Portland hotels, including the Broadway Hotel, the Hamilton Hotel, the Treves Hotel and the Cornelius Hotel. The Cornelius has been unoccupied since the 1980s, but has been the subject of various restoration plans, most recently in February 2015.[13]

Bennes was a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright and is said to have been "a product of the Chicago school of architecture."[14]

Later life and death[edit]

Bennes relocated from Portland to Los Angeles, California, in 1943 after a bout of unnamed illness,[7] where he died the same year.[10] Some of his plans and drawings are held in the Cachot Therkelsen Collection with the University of Oregon Libraries.[15]


Cornelius Hotel in Portland, Oregon.
Broadway Hotel in Portland, Oregon.
Hollywood Theatre in the Hollywood District of Portland, Oregon.

Bennes, Hendricks & Tobey (1906-1909)[edit]

Bennes, Hendricks & Thompson (1909-1911)[edit]

Bennes and Hendricks (1911-1913)[edit]

Independent (1914-1925)[edit]

Bennes & Herzog (1925-1931)[edit]

Independent (1933-1943)[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Landis, Larry. "John V. Bennes (1867-1943)". The Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  2. ^ Johnson, Ian (January 12, 2009). "Architect-Designed Portland Warehouse Listed in the National Register of Historic Places". Oregon Parks and Recreation Department News.
  3. ^ a b Albright, Mary Ann (March 2, 2007). "Case closed as buildings make list". Gazette-Times.
  4. ^ "John Bennes". Cinema Treasures.
  5. ^ "Bagdad Theater". Cinema Treasures.
  6. ^ Hedman, Arnie; Belsma, Ronnie; Lynch, James (April 23, 1982). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Heppner Hotel" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved July 20, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c "John Virginius Bennes". Pennsylvania College of Art and Design. University of Washington Library. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  8. ^ Ferriday 1984, p. 133.
  9. ^ a b "John Virginius Bennes, Architect [1867-1943]". Living Places. The Gombach Group. Retrieved May 30, 2017.
  10. ^ a b Oregon State University Historic District Archived 2010-07-17 at the Wayback Machine. section 8, page 22 U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service
  11. ^ Hickman 1907, p. 46.
  12. ^ a b "Campus Tour and Information". Eastern Oregon University.
  13. ^ Njus, Elliot (February 5, 2015). "Landmark Portland Buildings to be Transformed into Hotel". The Oregonian. p. B6. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  14. ^ Church's Building Well Worth Preserving, Larry Landis, February 01, 2001.
  15. ^ Cachot Therkelsen Collection 1906-1952 University of Oregon Libraries
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Oregon National Register List" (PDF). Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. June 6, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  17. ^ Edmonston, George P., Jr. "Up Close and Personal: Campus Tour". OSU Alumni Association. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  18. ^ Baker County Friends of the Library 2002, p. 101.
  19. ^ Hamilton Hotel (Venable Hotel) HABS No. OR-159 Historic American Buildings Survey
  20. ^ a b Alma Hotel[permanent dead link] National Register of Historic Places registration form.[dead link]
  21. ^ Engeman, Jessica (June 30, 2008). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Pacific Hardware & Steel Company Warehouse" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved July 31, 2012.
  22. ^ a b Astoria Archived 2010-01-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  23. ^ Rose, Michael (September 4, 2014). "City's Howard Hall Demo Decision Appealed to State Board". Statesman Journal. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  24. ^ Soo, Saerom (February 6, 2015). "Howard Hall Demolition Begins". Statesman Journal. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  25. ^ "Churchill Hall, Southern Oregon University (Ashland, Oregon)". University of Oregon Digital Archives. Retrieved February 6, 2015.
  26. ^ Clatsop County National Register of Historic Places
  27. ^ "Apartment Houses Rise". The Oregonian. Portland, Oregon: Oregonian Media Group. January 8, 1931. p. 24.
  28. ^ "Lieuallen Administration Building". Western Oregon University. Retrieved February 6, 2015.


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