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 Callahan's Lodge destroyed by fire

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  • Total Posts: 4542
  • Joined: 11/20/2000
  • Location: Rogue Valley
Callahan's Lodge destroyed by fire Sun, 09/3/06 9:49 PM (permalink)
    mr chips

    • Total Posts: 4715
    • Joined: 2/19/2003
    • Location: portland, OR
    RE: Callahan's Lodge destroyed by fire Sun, 09/3/06 11:04 PM (permalink)
    This is very sad news. It was always a comfort to see this place when coming in from California.

      • Total Posts: 4542
      • Joined: 11/20/2000
      • Location: Rogue Valley
      RE: Callahan's Lodge destroyed by fire Thu, 01/3/08 8:19 PM (permalink)

      Despite recent heavy snow on Siskiyou Summit, construction workers hammered and sawed to try and meet the anticipated May opening of the new and improved Callahan's Siskiyou Lodge off Exit 6 on I-5.

      The Southern Oregon landmark, which had been in operation for 60 years, burned to the ground in the summer of 2006 due to a hood fire in the restaurant's kitchen.

      Ron and Donna Bergquist, who bought Callahan's in 1996, initially thought they might reopen this summer. But they changed their minds, deciding instead to add 15,000 more square feet that will be completed in stages.

      The change slowed down the permitting process and New Age Builders of Medford weren't able to start construction until September 2007. Workers finished framing on the fourth floor, but the lodge is still missing a roof.

      "I'd love to have a month of sunshine so we can get the roof on," said Bob Taylor, construction manager. "We have about 10 guys working full-time, when they can. The May opening date would be a lot easier if the weather would cooperate."

      Change is good

      The lodge's exterior will look very similar to the original, including the three gables and wooden carved bear, who welcomed visitors at the front desk. The old bear was lost to the fire, so Ron's brother-in-law had another one made.

      When the four-story lodge reopens in May, all 19 rooms will include decks and Jacuzzi whirlpools, while 17 will also include fireplaces. The second phase of the construction project includes converting Bergquists' current living quarters into three more suites, one being a family suite with two bedrooms and a living room.

      The living quarter is the only section that survived the fire. Ron said he and Donna plan to build a house on the 50-acre property.

      A solar water heating system, the largest in Southern Oregon, will be installed to heat the whirlpools and meet the needs in the kitchen.

      The dining room, smaller than the original, will include a two-sided fireplace like before. However, inspectors determined that the original fireplace that appeared to have survived the blaze was not structurally sound, so it had to be rebuilt.

      The banquet room, which can be sectioned into three separate areas, is nearly tripling in size, allowing 150 people to share a meal together or 200 to meet in conferences.

      Ashland artist Bill Phillips, the official artist for the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, agreed to hang his artwork in the lodge's gallery-like hallways.

      The first phase, which includes construction, restaurant equipment and all the furnishings, will cost a little more than $3 million. It was financed by Commercial Investment Trust, which Ron says is a combination of Small Business Association and conventional loans.

      In incremental steps, the Burgquists want to add several small, Alaskan trapper cabins, and later, larger loft-type cabins, bringing the total suites available to 31 units.

      "But that's way in the future," says Ron.

      Remaining the same

      Big changes are taking place at the lodge, but some things will remain the same.

      All those extra rooms will require additional staff, expanding 35 employees to 45. But Wally Crum, who has poured drinks at the lodge for nearly 25 years, will continue to ask, "Do you want that shaken or stirred?"

      Musician Ken Hart will be back entertaining guests in the bar and Pacific Crest Trail hikers can still pop into the shop for a quick shower and pitch their tents on the lodge grounds.

      The Bergquists also plan to continue offering popular dinner, bed and breakfast weekday packages.

      "The people around here just loved those," said Ron.

      The couple wants guests who come to the lodge to feel like it never burnt down.

      "We're trying to keep it looking as close to the original, but with improvements," he said.

        mr chips

        • Total Posts: 4715
        • Joined: 2/19/2003
        • Location: portland, OR
        RE: Callahan's Lodge destroyed by fire Thu, 01/3/08 10:13 PM (permalink)
        Thanks for the update, Bill.

          • Total Posts: 4542
          • Joined: 11/20/2000
          • Location: Rogue Valley
          RE: Callahan's Lodge destroyed by fire Thu, 01/3/08 10:34 PM (permalink)
          Of course the roadfood relevant part of this story is that Ron was the Founder of the Shari's chain

            • Total Posts: 4542
            • Joined: 11/20/2000
            • Location: Rogue Valley
            RE: Callahan's Lodge destroyed by fire Thu, 05/15/08 12:11 AM (permalink)

            t wasn't too long ago that construction crews were cutting blocks of snow with chainsaws in order to work on Callahan's Lodge. Now the metal roofing is 70 percent complete, most of the drywall is up and stonework for the fireplaces is on track.

            The Southern Oregon landmark, which burned to the ground in the summer of 2006, should reopen by mid-July, according to owners Ron and Donna Bergquist.

            "We have a wedding booked for July 18," Ron said. "So that's the deadline we're shooting for."

            Keith Richardson, operations manager for the lodge, said, "This was one of the worst winters we've had and it really slowed things down."

            Lodge employees Richardson, Wally Crum, Page Severson used that slow time to handcraft nearly all of the wood furniture for Callahan's. The team milled wood from Klamath Falls, creating dressers, headboards, fireplace mantels, side and banquet tables, bedroom trunks and sliding panel dividers for the banquet room.

            Richardson said handcrafting their own furniture wasn't a less expensive option, "but you just can't find that kind of craftsmanship today."

            Richardson said installing the stairs in the four-story structure was another winter adventure.

            "We had to cut a hole in the roof and a crane lowered the stairs into the lodge," he said. "I've never seen anything like that before. It was really something."

            New chef named

            The Bergquists hired executive chef David Bartlett from Prineville's Meadow Lakes Golf Course in April. Bartlett, who was born in Medford in 1955, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York in 1983 and has worked at some of the finest restaurants in Oregon, said Donna.

            "I think my history of working at restaurants that are over 100 years old may have influenced Ron and Donna's hiring me," he said. "They saw that I could make some improvements, but still honor traditions."

            Bartlett said people stop by Callahan's all the time to check the progress of the lodge.

            "And everyone keeps asking me if we are still going to serve spaghetti," he said. "Yes, we're still going to serve the spaghetti and other Italian dishes. But we're also going to serve food with an Oregon mountain lodge spin to it."

            Bartlett said he plans to prepare food that highlights what Oregon and the Rogue Valley offers — cheeses, wines, salmon, racks of lamb and trout.

            "We're going to try as much as possible to use fresh and local products," he said. "I'm even looking to create a beer batter using Caldera ale."

            Donna, who's currently working on interior color schemes, said she can't wait for the lodge to open.

            "This has given us an opportunity to see Callahan's into the future it deserves — full of energy and passion," she said. "When we bought the lodge, we were kind of step-owners. The former owners did a fantastic job — but now we've made it our own."
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