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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Post InfoThis 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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