The Old Wheeler Hotel was built in 1920 to replace two wooden buildings that had occupied the same location. The original, The Rector Hotel and the Hotel Annex, flourished along with the rest of Wheeler during an economic boom. The Pacific Railway & Navigation Company had completed a rail link between Portland and Wheeler in 1911. The railroad facilitated the transport of timber from the vast old-growth Tillamook Forest through which it ran, to the lumber and shingle mills of Wheeler. Wood products from the mills could then be transported to Portland and points east.
Things took a turn for the worse in the early 1930’s; not only was the Great Depression taking its toll, but in the summer of 1933 the first of a series of major forest fires broke out which utterly devastated the timber industry in the area. The conflagration, known as “The Tillamook Burn” changed the environment, the economy, and the people of northwest Oregon forever.
Patronage of the Wheeler Hotel declined until, in 1940, Dr. Harvey Rinehart purchased the building and began operating it as the Rinehart Clinic which became well known as a facility for the treatment of arthritis. Patients would come and stay in hotel rooms on the upper floor of the building while receiving treatments on the first floor and basement. The clinic eventually offered all forms of medical services until it closed its doors around 1980. Dr, Harry Rinehart, Harvey’s grandson, practices family medicine to this day in a modern facility just up the road here in Wheeler.
The building changed ownership a couple of times in the ’80s and ’90s. Some improvements were made including new store-fronts and updated wiring, but essential maintenance had not been performed and by the late 1990’s the building was showing serious signs of deterioration.
In the fall of 1998, the Laszlos, who were just passing through Wheeler while traveling in their motor-home, stopped for a cup of coffee and ended up staying to refurbish the building, transforming it into a charming, comfortable, and unique place to stay.
In 2009 it was purchased by Katie Brown, who is continuing the tradition of constant improvement of this great old hotel as a project like this is never truly “finished”.