How often do we encounter a home away from home? The Paradise Inn has been a place of refuge, beauty and travel for over a century. Folks continue to travel across the country to experience its wildflower meadows that ring Mount Rainier’s icy volcano.
A New Chapter
In partnership with Rainier Guest Services & Korsmo Construction, a major rejuvenation of the Annex was completed in 2019 to preserve this long-standing structure. To celebrate the revitalization of the Annex, a grand reopening ceremony was held on May 17, 2019.
“This is a local story with national significance,” says Chip Jenkins, the park’s superintendent. “Mount Rainier is an icon on the horizon of the Pacific Northwest, and Paradise is the top destination of most of the park’s 1.5 million annual visitors. Over a million people will take photos of the Inn, enjoy a meal in the dining room, or just relax and enjoy the stately lobby.”
The restoration of the Inn represents a $24.5 million investment to address Mount Rainier National Park’s maintenance while ensuring high quality upgrades for time to come. What a makeover!
“Focusing on the rehabilitation and maintenance of our historic structures, such as Paradise Inn, not only provides improved access to our national parks, but maintains the historic visitor experience of connecting with the great American landscape,” says Dr. Allyson Brooks, Washington State Historic Preservation Officer.
History in the making
The Paradise Inn and Annex has served as a rustic home for visitors exploring Mount Rainier as far back as the early 19th century.
- Local tribes like the Nisqually, Yakama, and others, travelled to the Paradise meadows to hunt and gather.
- Early mountain climbers scaled the glaciers and used Paradise as a way stop.
- A gentleman named John Reese set up summer tent camps in the 1890s, offering people a place to eat and spend the night at Camp of the Clouds.
- Businessmen bought out Reese and formed the Rainier National Park Company, making plans for a lodge: Paradise.
Becoming a National Historic Landmark
The Paradise Inn represents a nationally significant architectural creation that compliments and is appropriate within the natural beauty and is referred to as PARKitecture. The PARKitecture elements include use of natural materials, such as Alaskan yellow cedar, large native stone combined to create dramatic exterior appearance and unique interior spaces. The silver sheen of the structural timbers is a result of decades of weathering of the fire killed tree before they were harvested for construction of the Inn.
The PARKitecture style continues to be emulated in areas around the country.