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The Log Lodge Restoration Makes Progress

By Ty Walker

The Log Lodge Restoration Makes Progress

Significant progress is being made on the Log Lodge restoration project in Rhododendron. Built in 1929 by William “Bill” Lenz from hand-hewn Douglas fir logs felled on the site, the historic Mount Hood building has become a local icon.

Over its 95-year history, The Log Lodge has seen things come and go. In the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, it was the place to go after skiing, or, quoting former owner Doug Kinne, the “Apres ski locale.”

It was a community hub, a bar, restaurant and lounge, music venue and dance hall. Locals have fond memories of the building. When the area flooded in 1964 and all the bridges washed away, many gathered at the Log Lodge for Christmas. For Portlanders, it was a day trip to that “hopping place on the mountain.”

When it was Don Guido’s Italian Restaurant, it was voted best place to kiss in a survey of romantic U.S. restaurants. A cozy double-sided fireplace and large exposed logs added to the ambience. With a lot of hard work, the latest owners want to see to it that dancing days are here again.

The new owners, Anita Wisloff and Erik Menteer, a Portland couple who have relocated to Rhododendron, have ambitious plans of returning the venerable lodge to its original luster. The Log Lodge has become their life’s work as they have invested “pretty much everything we have,” they said.

They started by replacing the leaky roof with a metal one better suited for the climate. The main parts of the 4,000 square-foot-structure were intact, but the bottom rows of logs were beginning to rot from exposure to weather conditions.

They also had to rebuild the chimney and double-sided fireplace. To help repair the structure itself, they received a "Diamonds in the Rough" grant from Preserve Oregon, which will help restore facades that have been heavily altered.

“Our vision is to restore it to its historic appearance, and revive the ambience of the tales told from back when it was a bar and music venue,” Wisloff and Menteer said in a joint email.
They spent a year planning the log repairs with someone who became a dear friend, local log expert David Rogers.

“It was a major heartbreak when he suddenly and unexpectedly passed away four months into starting the actual work, and it set us back both financially and mentally,” Wisloff and Menteer said. “He really was irreplaceable, and we eventually realized that we had to shift gears and come up with a new plan for the main structural repairs. But we learned a lot from David, and he played a big part in this project.”

Over the summer, they painstakingly stripped layers of paint, brushed, sanded and polished the logs, then added a fresh stain. They said the result is beautiful.

“We've both always had a dream to do something like this, to create a place where you'd want to hang out yourself,” Wisloff and Menteer said.

Menteer is a musician who plays guitar for the Portland band Blitzen Trapper. Wisloff is a native Norwegian who has worked in the music industry as a booking agent for bands.

When Kinne owned and operated Don Gudo’s at the Log Lodge restaurant for 15 years, from 1992 to 2007, it was a popular destination. But he said the high cost of heating it was “a nightmare.” To keep it warm in the winter, he had to run two large 250,000 BTU furnaces full time and burn a cord of wood a day.

After he closed Don Guido’s, he rented the lodge to several restaurants that didn’t last. Mt. Hood Daycare Center was the last tenant before he decided to sell the building. Kinne moved to Texas and was excited to hear through the Mt. Hood grapevine that it was being restored by the new owners.

“Now a serious rejuvenation effort is going into the building,” he said. “The magnitude of the restoration is going to be relatively epic. It’s expensive to replace logs.”

He said the substructure of the building is rock solid with hand hewn 14 by 20 inch logs on top of concrete rocks for the foundation. Some pretty interesting technology went into the building, such as a floating floor separate from the building.

One of his favorite details is the large fireplace headstone cut in the shape of the southern exposure of Mt. Hood. The fireplace and the Log Lodge that houses it will live again.

For information about supporting the Log Lodge restoration project, go to
Theloglodge.net. Follow the progress of the project on instagram @theloglodge.

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