Sunday, July 16, 2017

Oregon Caves Chateau - Little D Gets an Upgrade

The Oregon Caves Chateau, owned by the National Park Service and operated by a local non-profit, is one of the “Great” lodges of the Pacific Northwest.  Built in 1934 by private money and purchased by the Feds, it is need of significant upgrades, the funding for which is currently pending at the Congressional level.

The Friends of the Oregon Caves & Chateau, a 501-c3 chartered to support the efforts of the NPS at the Caves, has undertaken a series of projects over the past few years designed to help the Chateau, and NPS, figure out some of the restoration issues.  We’ve written before about the “Nu-Wood” interior wall cladding.

The Friends’ current project is the rehabilitation of Little D, the former staff dining area, located on the 2nd basement level.  Built to feed the original cave guides, college students who worked here during the summer, Little D has never been available to the public and, since the end of the cave guide program, has essentially been unused.  We’re rebuilding the kitchen, upgrading the interior, and transforming Little D into a large group meeting space that will be available for dining, educational programs, and all sorts of other events that currently aren’t possible.  The long term goal is that Little D can operate independently, during the shoulder season, and extend food service and programs at the Caves without having to open the full Chateau.

Little D was painted all white in 1964, following flood damage.  It is clad with Nu-Wood, and the columns have been painted out.  It’s pretty functional.  We’ve come up with a plan to paint and spruce it up to create a more attractive space, with new lighting, and some faux paint treatments (graining the columns, for example) that better capture the original lodge character.  

This includes the recreation of a chair rail element to divide the upper and lower walls.  Built from three pieces of wood, each painted to match the character-defining Monterey Furniture of the chateau, it's not a complex detail, but a time-consuming one.  Since nobody else was available (willing?) to mill and build (and paint!) the chair-rail design, we offered to do it.  It was fun to put the wood shop to good use.