Fawnskin History: Fawn Lodge Update

It always amazes me how many rumors tend to circulate around town. Circumspection usually means that there is an interest is finding out what the real story is. Funny, many people never go directly to the source to find out. (Must be human nature–as we all do it.)

So, I called the owners of the Fawn Lodge after hearing several rumors. I had the good fortune of meeting them shortly after moving into Fawnskin. The Njus family had been looking to purchase a cabin in the area and then stumbled upon the opportunity.

As luck would have it, the money appeared and they purchased the Fawn Lodge in February of 1999.

The Guio Block, as it was originally named, passed through many hands over time and just when it became known as the Fawn Lodge is not known. After the Wilson’s divorced (speculated to be in the late 1950s or 1960s) it remained closed for twenty-something years.

You might find the original 1924 Deed to be of interest–complete with CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions). Rules and regulations that may shock some.

Just prior to the Njus family’s purchase, the first floor was gutted. At that time it was owned by Dan Fagan, whose distinction was getting the Fawn Lodge designated as a California Point of Historic Interest on August 23, 1994.

Since the last change in ownership took place the Fawnskin landmark has been popular with the movie and television industry. Such usage helps to pay the property taxes on the 18,000 square foot building.

Locals and visitors may have seen Fawn Lodge in CSI, Hallmark’s Angel in the Family (along with lots of Fawnskin residents who served as extras), or in the movies such as Dr Dolittle II or Jack Frost.

According the Kathy Njus, the lodge had been closed for at least 15 years when the family purchased it. To their surprise it has been difficult to proceed.

First, life has gotten in the way–many locals incorrectly think that work on the lodge stopped because of the car accident involving the dad but that was prior to purchase.

Then in 2006, mom fell and hurt herself. However, just because things slow down doesn’t mean that things are not happening–just put on the back burner.

Part of the delay is the infamous red tape around these parts.

Shortly after acquiring the facility the family arranged a building and safety inspection. Paired with their contractor, they paid for and expected a detailed report–but instead got a vague letter with general recommendations instead of the specifics they requested.

The news was not good.

The one page letter simply stated that it was okay to retrofit and that they should “cure all deficiencies”–but failed to outline any. They learned that only routine maintenance on the building and repairs to maintain the building’s integrity were allowed.

Forward movement was only possible after they could locate a suitable architect and engineer to draw up plans for their vision. Then, only after the submitted plans were approved, would they be enabled to proceed; they are still seeking those people.

Locals might remember that in 2002 a new roof was installed to protect the building from water damage. (I got to tour the interior then.) Since that time little else has been done.

The family intends to maintain the historic building and estimates (many years ago) were that it would require over 1/2 million dollars. Today that number is probably a fraction of what it would require. The roof alone cost $50,000 US.

Desires are that features such as the wood floors and the fireplace would remain. (The large fireplace was built by the famous mason whose other distinction was a similar structure at the old Peter Pan Lodge.)

Although they have no intentions of selling the place, “everything is for sale at a price.”

Rumors of potential purchasers are false.

Recently someone had envisioned turning the place into an old folks home–but they wanted the building and property to be “gifted.”

Previously to that, someone else had interest in turning the place into a weekend mystery dinner theater facility…and then there was the quasi timeshare idea.

A few locals get permission to utilize the property for activities. Candy Hallstead always gets permission for “dumpster day” and Lynda McGinnis has the go-ahead to use the lot for parking during the Pirate Faire, Victorian Festival, and Renaissance Faire activities.

Those that don’t get permission? It hasn’t happened often–but a local was cited recently. Minding your manners around these parts is a good idea–just ask around.

As for the family, they are prioritizing now and hope to one day see their dream of restoring the Fawn Lodge come true.

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This entry was posted on Friday, June 20th, 2008 and is filed under Business & Commerce, Fawnskin History, Mountain Lake Resort, Small Town Living.

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9 Responses to “Fawnskin History: Fawn Lodge Update

  • 1
    June 20th, 2008 15:21

    Anybody can have access to the Lodge if they want, I believe I have keys. The owners are planning on coming out this summer to have a look see again, it would be nice to see it up and running but not in my lifetime

  • 2
    GG (Gossip Girl)
    June 20th, 2008 16:18

    Yep, Kathy said they have an open door policy. Maybe they could sell tickets for tours to raise more funds (kidding, I’m kidding). 🙂

  • 3
    June 23rd, 2008 10:59

    While we do have an “open door” policy for the Lodge, it is usually with our permission, knowledge, and one of us being present. Remember: accessing or entering someone’s property without their permission is tresspassing! If anyone would like access to the Lodge they should contact one of us first!

  • 4
    GG (Gossip Girl)
    June 23rd, 2008 17:46

    Thanks for clarifying Kathy and I’ll look forward to a tour when you guys get up here for a visit!

  • 5
    C Anderson
    August 31st, 2008 19:58

    As a little boy growing up in Fawnskin, I would pal around with the grandson of Mr. Wilson of the Fawn Lodge (circa 1968). We would have lunch there daily and took full advantage of the endless sodas from the bar. At the beginning of my High school years, My sister who was an assistant chef at the Lodge landed me a busboy job. I continued to work there for five years eventually moving into the kitchen. It was a great establishment.

  • 6
    GG (Gossip Girl)
    September 1st, 2008 10:18

    Thanks for leaving us a note. We are still looking for people who worked at the lodge if you know of anyone.

  • 7
    Judy Wilson
    July 19th, 2009 10:14

    I just read the history of Fawn Lodge or House of Wilson as we remember it. My husband and his family bought the lodge in 1946 and sold it in the mid 70’s. I don’t know where you got the divorce idea, but there was never a divorce in our family. Glenn and Jackie Wilson are both deceased now and Rob and I live in Orange County. Rob’s brother, Gary and his family live in Rancho Santa Fe. My family owned the Fawnskin market from 1958 to the mid 70’s. It was a beautiful, clean store then. My dad, Gene Mustoe sold it when he retired. We really value the years that we spent living in Fawnskin, and are so happy to see so much interest in that beautiful little town. Judy Mustoe Wilson

  • 8
    GG (Gossip Girl)
    July 19th, 2009 13:05

    Hi Judy, thanks for commenting. I am sure Eileen would like to talk to your family about the time when it was the House of Wilson. I’ll pass your email to her.

  • 9
    Tim McDonald (Kesterson)
    July 24th, 2010 07:21

    I lived in Fawnskin through the ’70’s and my mom was a waitress at the Fawn Lodge for many years. Back then Doug Lamb(sp.?) worked the bar, Ronny Arbo was a bus boy and the Ables owned it (or leased it) from Lee Baker. It was a very popular dining spot back then, we actually lived in the small apartment on the side, across from the fire dept. The place was supposedly haunted, had many experiences as a kid listening to the ghostly chatter and spooks running around upstairs. Had several people stay in our apt but when the spirits started their pranks, most would get out ! I have many fond memories of that place, as does Mom !