One of Hermiston’s most iconic buildings is going back to its roots.
On Friday, the Union Club will reopen, more than 50 years after the original business shut down in the 1960s.
The Union Club bar began when men from the trades flocked to Hermiston in the 1940s to build the Umatilla Chemical Depot and McNary Dam. Today’s version is a coffee by day, bar by night gathering space reimagined for a new generation of Hermiston residents.
Justin Doyle, owner of the club, said they tried to preserve as much history as possible for the 113-year-old red brick building at the corner of Main Street and Northeast Second.
Where parts of the wooden floor had to be removed, those slats were repurposed to line the stairs. Shelving was built out of posts from the dressing rooms used during the building’s turn as RoeMark’s Mens and Western Wear, plus wood that was replaced with glass in the upstairs window wells.
“We did a lot of things like that,” Doyle said.
The former RoeMarks sign came down off the side of the building this week, and Doyle said it will be reused somehow but they haven’t decided where to re-hang it yet.
Other parts of the building stay true to the history of the area in a more general way, such as the bottles of spirits stored in a wooden rack originally used to sort mail at the first Stanfield Post Office.
When the building went up in 1906 it was called the Newport-Skinner building, after two of the town’s founders. Over the years it was used for a variety of things, including the town’s first library and the offices of the East Oregonian.
As an homage to its history, two small meeting rooms available for free use upstairs at the Union Club are the Newport and Skinner rooms. And the large Gardner Room is named after Roe Gardner, who ran RoeMark’s Men’s and Western Wear there from 1974 to 2012.
The Gardner area upstairs, lined with comfortable couches and chairs, will play host to a variety of events, from wine tasting to readings to goat yoga. Doyle said he wants to build a “community rhythm” there, where, for example, people who love coffee might know that every Monday they can gather for some sort of coffee-related event and get to know others with the same passion.
Doyle promised the Union Club’s coffee will be very good.
“The coffee is formed around the quality of the coffee itself,” he said. “This is the top 1% of the top 1% of coffees. The farmers are doing everything by hand, in a very specific way, so that the coffee is very nuanced and sweet and flavorful.”
There will also be fun flavors to add, and on Tuesday staff were learning how to create latte art.
The bar will focus on “the best of the local producers” for craft beers and wines, as well as a large selection of spirits, particularly whisky. Some are limited-edition runs that can’t be found anywhere else.
As for food, there will be fresh pastries and savory pies baked on site every day by Magpie Baking Company. The individual-sized pies will draw inspiration from around the world, including Southern BBQ, Latin American cuisine and Thai curry.
The grand opening weekend for the Union Club at 201 E. Main St. will kick off Friday at 3 p.m. with a ribbon cutting by the Greater Hermiston Area Chamber of Commerce. Live music on the adjacent festival street will begin immediately after and continue into the evening before picking up the next day from 3-10 p.m. Artists include Dallin Puzey Music, Chase Bailey, Far Out West & Hired Guns.
For more information, visit the Union Club Facebook page.