Soon after McMenamins Anderson School opened, general manager Jared Prince was walking through The Woodshop, one of the three restaurants on the property, and recognized a gentleman as he sipped a beer in one of the booths.
“I took a double-take and then wandered over to one of the pictures on the wall and there he was,” Prince said. “He was one of the last woodshop teachers who taught right here.”
That’s the magic of building a beer-lover’s resort out of what was once a historic school.
Anderson School, which opened in Bothell in the fall of 2015, is in the tradition of other McMenamins projects that turn aging institutions into destination resorts.
Brothers Mike and Brian McMenamin started in 1983 with the Barley Mill pub in Portland’s Hawthorne neighborhood. Since then, they’ve transformed a poor farm into a 74-acre winery and resort (Edgefield), a Portland grade school into a hotel (Kennedy School), and an old Catholic schoolhouse in Bend, Oregon, into a lodge and pub (Old St. Francis School), among many others.
Like those projects, McMenamins used the history of Anderson School and Bothell to bring the property to life. Sitting on 5 acres near downtown Bothell, Anderson School was built in 1931 and housed generations of students who chased each other down the halls, ate in the cafeteria and swam laps in the pool. That history is etched on the walls of every building.
“History is a big part of what we do,” said Prince, who worked at Old St. Francis School for a decade before coming to Anderson School.
As they do at every site, McMenamins dispatched their historians to dig into the local history surrounding the school. That information then went to the company’s 25 artists, who then “do their magic,” according to Prince.
McMenamins’ whimsical-yet-cozy style gives the property a chill atmosphere. Tables of men and women laugh and imbibe in the courtyard as workers cart wheelbarrows full of wood around the property. A bartender in The Shed pours a cocktail and shakes it over his shoulder as a fire crackles in the background. A young man enjoys a Scotch as he chats with bartender Tirrell Harrison in the intimate Principal’s Office bar on the top floor of the schoolhouse-turned-hotel.
“A lot of businesses want to put their customers in a box,” Prince said. “We want people to roam about and see what fits.”
Tavern On The Square. Formerly: The Cafeteria
Situated in the middle of everything, Tavern on the Square is the hub that everything at Anderson School revolves around. Open the door and walk into what looks like the type of cafeteria your granddad would frequent. Stained glass windows allow ample light in as waiters and waitresses carry orders to large wooden tables and booths and a bartender pours pints behind a centralized rectangular bar.
The food served now is a far cry from what they served kids back in the day. The menu is farm-to-table and was designed by executive chef Mike Davis, who has come up with a wide array of offerings, from gumbo to filet mignon.
After your meal, wander past the large fireplace and sitting area and head over to the gift shop. What used to be the old band room is now a showroom for the lineup of goods McMenamins specializes in: ice cream, wine, whiskey, vodka, shirts. Oh, and beer.
North Shore Lagoon. Formerly: The Pool
What was once a community pool for the residents of Bothell remains just that. It just has a tiki bar that overlooks it now. Anderson School is the only McMenamins property with more than a soaking pool, and this full-size saltwater swimming pool is free for Bothell residents and anyone staying at the Anderson School hotel. McMenamins’ own lifeguards provide swim lessons for the little ones. No beer in the pool, unfortunately.
Bamboo pipes pour 90-degree water from the enclosed tiki bar above as steam drifts up slowly from the water. The tiki bar, which was built where parents once cheered in the grandstands, is a narrow bar with a number of tables overlooking the pool. Portholes and strips of wood from dilapidated ships decorate the wall and the tables and bar are made from the wood of a sugarwood tree. Go all in and get the Banh Mi Sandwich or Seven-Spiced Ahi to go with a cold pint.
The Woodshop. Formerly: The Woodshop
Ready to play some games? What was once a place for young boys and girls to learn the art of woodworking has now become a place more synonymous with pool and shuffleboard tables. The sports-bar vibe is strong, with people laughing and playing shuffleboard or chatting at tables while a baseball game plays above them. Don’t forget the pinball games in the corner.
The property’s brewery is connected to The Woodshop. The 10-barrel system brews not only beer for the restaurants at Anderson School, but also a few other Puget Sound McMenamins locations. Food at The Woodshop trends toward pub fare (burgers, sandwiches, tots, etc.)
Haines Hall And Movie Theater. Formerly: The Gym
Visitors can walk into the cavernous Haines Hall, jump up and down and still feel the gym floor beneath. The space now has a giant wooden bar in the corner and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It serves as a venue for weddings, concerts and big parties for guests.
On the other half of the gym, behind a wall built since McMenamins purchased the property, is a movie theater. Catch a movie, drink a beer and order up some food from the comfort of a roomy recliner. Along with the pool, the movie theater lends a truly family feel to Anderson School.
Anderson School Hotel. Formerly: The Schoolhouse
History is on display in the hallways of what is now the 72-room hotel. Each room is named after local legends, from former faculty and students to famous Bothell residents. Artwork, photos and bios of the rooms’ namesakes — politics for Patty Murray; football for Pop Keeney — line the hallways. The headboards in every room are painted with original artwork and the rooms have high ceilings, large beds and vibrant decor.
Head up the wide stairs to the Principal’s Office, but no need to hang one’s head. The former office of the school’s namesake, Andy Anderson, is now a tiny bar that serves 18-year-old Scotch, good conversation and a wall full of books.
Take a few steps outside the hotel and meander over to The Shed near the courtyard. The only structure built from the ground up, The Shed is a warm, intimate bar that has all the elements of what makes McMenamins a McMenamins. It’s all distilled right here, said Prince: a bar, bartender, conversation, fire, dark lighting and a Grateful Dead poster.
“When we were working with our contractor on building Anderson School after The Shed was built, we said that right there is what we’re going for,” Prince said. “They understood immediately what we were looking for.”
If you go
McMenamins Anderson School is at 18607 Bothell Way NE near downtown Bothell. Anderson School was built in 1931 and sits on 5 acres. McMenamins turned the old school into a destination resort.
Rooms come in double queen or king and offer Beer 101 packages that include taster trays, samples and a growler filled with your choice of McMenamins ales.
McMenamins’ inaugural Anderson School Brewfest is July 29 and will showcase 50 different beers from McMenamins and other local breweries.
Call 425-398-0122 or go to www.mcmenamins.com/anderson-school for more.