WILLIAM PHILANDER DOWNING.
Perhaps no one business enterprise or industry indicates more clearly the commercial and social status of a town
than its hotels. The wide awake or enterprising villages and cities must have pleasant accommodations for visitors
and traveling men and the foreign public judge a community by the entertainment afforded strangers. In this regard
the hotel of which William Philander Downing is proprietor is an index of the character and advantages of Bend,
for the hostelry will rank favorably with those of many a larger place, and its genial proprietor neglects nothing
that can add to the comfort of his guests.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in September, 1872, he is a son of Frederick and Gertrude (Schist) Downing. His father
was of Scotch descent and was for many years successfully engaged in the conduct of a mercantile business.
William Philander Downing was educated in the grade and high schools of St. Louis and came to the coast to seek
his fortune at the age of sixteen years. He obtained employment in the Coronado hotel at San Diego, California,
and there laid the foundation of his hotel business, in which he has attained such merited success. After spending
two years in San Diego he returned to St. Louis, but the call of the west proved too great and in less than a year
he returned to California. Then for four years he was a resident of Minnesota and in 1902 came to Oregon. Bend
at that time was not yet an incorporated town and Mr. Downing filed upon a homestead which is now Shevlin Park
and remained on that property for six years. During that period he worked for Mr. Drake, who located and founded
the city of Bend. Selling his homestead property he became engaged in the fuel business in Bend and followed that
line until 1912, when he opened his first restaurant. As the population of the town was then less than five hundred
his restaurant was small, but in less than a year his business had grown to such extensive proportions as to necessitate
his removal to larger quarters. Mr. Downing looks back with pride upon the fact that his sole capital when he came
to Bend was twenty one dollars and he attributes a great measure of his success to his wife, who has been his helpmate
and inspiration. His present hotel and cafe is a handsome stone and brick structure on Bond street and has a frontage
of fifty feet and a depth of eighty feet. The lower floor is occupied entirely by the cafe and office, while the
upper floors are devoted to bedrooms. In building his hotel Mr. Downing selected the best material possible and
his establishmeant is modern in every respect. The hotel rooms are equipped with hot and cold running water and
bath, and are tastefully furnished and kept scrupulously clean. The restaurant has in addition to its lower floor
a balcony with accommodations for sixty diners. The kitchen is, however, Mr. Downing's greatest pride. It is complete
in every particular and contains every modern device. It is equipped with a huge refrigerator, which has a capacity
of from five to six quarters of beef and other meats and supplies. Mr. Downing holds to the belief, as do all good
chefs, that it is essential to allow beef to hang several days before it is prepared for human consumption and
therein lies one of the factors of his success. In order to keep the establishment running on a smooth and efficient
basis twelve assistants are constantly employed and they are surrounded by the most pleasant working conditions.
In addition to his hotel property Mr. Downing owns considerable property in Bend. His home is located on the west
side of the river on Bend View, one of the commanding residence sites of the city.
In 1901 occurred the marriage of Mr. Downing to Miss Margaret Beatrice Ham, a native of Colorado. To their union
four girls have been born: Helen, Florence, Reta and Dorothy. Mrs. Downing is well known in the club and social
circles of Bend and is a woman of great intellect and much personal charm.
Mr. Downing is active in all civic affairs and is a member of the Bend Commercial Club and other organizations
whose object is the development and improvement of the general welfare. Fraternally he is a Knight of Pythias and
he is likewise identified with the Moose, Eagles, and Woodmen of the World. The success which Mr. Downing has achieved
has been worthily won and the character of the man is clearly manifest by the credit he so cheerfully and unselfishly
gives his wife for her stanch support, encouragement and unflagging devotion.
History of Oregon Illistrated
BY: Charles H. Carney
The Pioneer Historical Publishing Company
Chicago - Portland 1922
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