McMenamins Crystal Blocks 2016 — photo 26 of 50: Part of the concert and dance venue Lola’s Room, located on the second floor of the historic (built 1914) McMenamins Crystal Ballroom building on West Burnside Street between SW 13th and 14th Avenues in downtown Portland, Oregon. I took this picture in October 2016.

Lola Baldwin was one of the first female police officers in the country, working with the Portland police department as the superintendent of the Women’s Protective Division, with the rank of detective, from 1908 to 1922. The goal was to cleanse and uplift the evil city, and make it morally and physically safe for families, single working women, and children. She led a crusade against venues that she believed con­trib­ut­ed to the exploitation of young women, which included dance halls.

In the early 1920s she repeatedly raided the Cotillion Hall (the original name of the Crystal Ballroom) for morally offensive jazz dancing. “A great majority of women and girls owe their downfall to the dance hall,” Baldwin declared. Stifling regulations were passed and dance steps were banned. Baldwin even tried to impose a standardized dance position from which no one was permitted to stray. A dance hall inspector made the rounds of all the city’s public ballrooms to ensure no funny business was happening.

About twenty years later, she wrote a letter, published in The Oregonian newspaper, decrying the sale of alcoholic beverages at dance halls. In light of all this history, and Lola’s antagonistic connection to the Crystal Ballroom building, it was with a cheeky sense of irony and humor that Mc­Men­a­mins named the building’s smaller concert and dance venue Lola’s Room, and that one of the McMenamins artists painted her larger-​than-​life portrait on a beer-​making tank in the brewery. She must be turning in her grave!

Camera used: Olympus OM-D E-M5 with Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 zoom lens.
For further details about the story behind this photo, see the related article Exploring the McMenamins Crystal Blocks.
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