All this summer, Ray Mullin and his wife, Tiara Gunstone, have been busy collecting a little piece of history in the Trout Lake community.
Trout Lake Hall has had many names in the past, but for more than a hundred years it has hosted parties, banquets, dances, dinners and every type of gathering you can think of. When Mullin, a 20-year veteran of the Portland music industry, and Gunstone, an accomplished interior designer and owner of Crush Staging, a real estate company, saw an opportunity to renew the spirit of the historic building, they jumped at it.
After The Historic Trout Lake Country Inn closed, the couple struck up a conversation with the building’s owner, Danica Rawlings, and as the conversation progressed, they realized they had struck gold. The couple decided to lease the building and turn it into a venue for live performances, private events and more.
Mullin brings decades of experience as a concert promoter and venue manager to Portland.
“I started organizing concerts and managing venues as a teenager,” Mullin said. “I was kind of in a weird space as a kid and I had friends who were in bands and wanted to know how to book them gigs and shows, and I started helping a little punk place in Southeast Portland.”
The opportunity gave him more connections to the music scene and he worked at various venues, later becoming the manager of Satrycon, a now-closed punk club in Portland’s Chinatown known for hosting many of the greatest bands up and coming from the Northwest. After leaving, he became manager of Mississippi Studios and helped open Revolution Hall in Portland’s Buckman neighborhood, managing the venue as well. Over the past ten years, he has had the responsibility of overseeing most of the departments from operations and security to reservations and ticketing.
“I love music, I love live music,” he said. “I love the creativity and community that comes from gatherings and the positive energy you can feel from a large group of people having a good time.”
That energy lives on within the walls of Trout Lake Hall today.
Built in 1904 by German settlers Henry and Herman Tode, the “Amusement Hall” featured a large dance floor, a stage, a soda fountain and a two-band speaker, a candlestick bowling alley, according to Gil Martin’s story submitted to the National Register of Historic Places.
“After its construction, the hall soon became widely known for its entertainment offerings, especially the Saturday night barn dances, which featured music by a variety of talented local artists,” Martin wrote. It later hosted the Trout Lake Bachelor Club. Believed to be the first of its kind in the Northwest, the organization placed advertisements in regional newspapers seeking eligible bachelors. As the brothers grew older, so did their taste in business opportunities, as they leased part of the property to a nearby gas station and later sold the business to Josephine German in 1924. The German’s opened The Tourist Club, affectionately known as “Doodle’s Place.” The business offers food, drinks and evening pinot games. Although alcohol was prohibited, some male patrons hid their stash by stuffing bottles into the snow bank by the front porch in winter. Jerman later installed an addition to the back of the house that served as a public bathroom, while the front served as a post office and offered a soda fountain until the early 1960s.
The business was sold again to Bill Morris in 1964, who served as a makeshift hanger for his broken-down airplane parts, while farmers and loggers still stopped by occasionally for a beer. The tavern was the only body of water for 12 miles in each direction, Martin noted. Weekend music returned in 1975 and stage plays returned in 1980, while summer dinner shows were held from 1980 to 1998. Since then the building has been used as a bed and breakfast and the hall is rented out for weddings and gatherings.
Mullin has always dreamed of owning his own place – “I tried when I was 16 and had no idea what I was doing. Maybe I was a little too ambitious.”
Gunstone and Mullin grew up in Portland, while Gunstone’s family has owned a house in Trout Lake since childhood.
“Since we’ve been together, we’ve been coming to Trout Lake for a long time. Now we spend a lot of our free time here,” he said. They are considering moving to Trout Lake full time and having their daughter Odell start school there.
This summer, since they leased the building, they have been hard at work renovating the commercial kitchen, the roof and replacing some of the siding on the exterior walls. The interior will be much more open, and the bar and kitchen area will be completely redesigned, he said.
The couple recently hired a music promoter, Lindsey Feathers, who is actively recruiting talent for a series of concerts in the fall. An opening date has not yet been set as construction continues, but Mullin said the business will book six to eight weekends the rest of the year and complete any remaining construction projects over the winter. They plan to be open with regular business hours and be open for food and drink, with entertainment and private event options.
“I’m looking into having either food pop-ups with some chefs or some food trucks for the series. But whenever we’re open, we’ll have food,” he said. “I’m just over the moon about everything. I’m really excited about the opportunity to work to build it into a great place for the community to come and have a good time.”