Ermatinger House, where coin toss determined Portland’s name, to reopen

The Ermatinger House in Oregon City. (KATU Photo)

The Ermatinger House is one of the oldest homes in the state of Oregon and something significant happened inside.

In 1845, Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove flipped a coin in the parlor.

“Pettygrove was from Portland, Maine and Asa Lovejoy was from Boston, Massachusetts, so they both were betting on what to name Portland. Best two out of three. Portland won,” said Lisa Demarais, recreation programmer for Ermatinger House.

And with that, what was known as The Clearing became Portland, instead of Boston.

For years the Ermatinger House was closed because it was falling down. But after nearly $1 million and a lot of rehabilitation, it’s back open as a museum.

“A lot of it’s original,” Demarais said, pointing to wooden wall planks that over the years shrank, leaving gaps between each one. The floors are original, too.

The reopening is a big deal for Tim Hohl. He founded Coin Toss Brewing in Oregon City three years ago.

“It’s super exciting to be able to tell people who come into our taproom the coin toss story and say now you can actually go visit and stand in the parlor where the coin toss happened,” he said.

He even brewed a special beer for the occasion: The Ermatinger Ale.

“It’s a dark lager similar to what maybe was brewing in the Oregon territory around the time of the coin toss,” Hohl said.

You can try it Saturday at the grand reopening celebration, where you’ll meet descendants of Pettygrove, Lovejoy and Francis Ermatinger.

“Lovejoy and Pettygrove families will be re-enacting the coin toss, and that’s something that hasn’t happened in this house in 173 years. So, we’ll have to see if it comes up Boston or Portland,” said Rochelle Anderholm-Parsch with the city of Oregon City.

The Ermatinger House reopening celebration is Saturday, July 7 from noon to 4 p.m. It’s free to attend.

And starting next weekend, the house will be open Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for tours and special events.

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