Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Piece of history set to expire

Bald Mountain cabins will be torn down this week

Express Staff Writer

One of the historic Bald Mountain Lodge cabins is prepared for transfer off the site in 2003. Express file photo

Priceless in historical value, the remaining Bald Mountain Lodge cabins have been deemed too expensive to save.

"We've tried everything we can think of to try to save them," said Anne Zauner, a board member of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society, who has been coordinating preservation efforts for more than a year.

The 1929 cabins were once part of the Bald Mountain Hot Springs Motel and "plunge" pool.

"The new owners have been extremely nice and cooperative," Zauner said. But in the end, Zauner and other interested parties—including 50-plus inquiries and 10 interested parties—came up against cost, land and logistics, ultimately losing their fight to salvage or move the cabins.

"They looked into moving costs, which were substantial, and renovation to bring them up to code, but it was cost-prohibitive," she said.

An idea for an "Old Town" site that could accommodate endangered historic buildings also hit a wall.

"It was premature in hoping that could work," she said. Zoning regulations, and water, power and sewer connectivity were among immediately insurmountable issues.

"We just ran into so many obstacles," she said. But, "the concept of having a little historic town is still viable."

Zauner laments the loss of the cabins not only because of the historical and architectural value, but because they represented a part of the Ketchum community that is slipping away.

So many residents "either stayed there or swam there or knew someone who did," she said.

The society will try to salvage some artifacts and paneling to create a display at the Ski & Heritage Museum in Ketchum, Zauner said.

Parts of the lodge were moved to Hagerman, in south-central Idaho, in late 2003. Several cabins and the old office building remain on the Main Street site.

The Bald Mountain Hot Springs Motel was built in 1929 by Carl E. Brandt, an executive with J.C. Penney Co. who once managed a J.C. Penney store in Hailey.

Brandt commissioned the Boise-based architectural firm Tourtellotte and Hummel, whose architects designed the state Capitol building in Boise. The hotel's property included 31 log-cabin apartments and a 200,000-gallon concrete pool filled with water piped from an underground reservoir at Warm Springs.

The buildings are a classic representation of rustic log architecture.

"The rustic cabin style was very popular at the turn of the (last) century," Zauner said.

The pool closed in 1988 due to failed pipes.

The property's new owner, Bald Mountain LLC, and principal Steve Burnstead, last month submitted pre-application design review paperwork to the Ketchum Planning Department for a hotel.

Plans for the four-story, 57-foot high building include designs for condominium and hotel rooms, retail space on the ground floor, a restaurant, bar, lobby and pool and spa area.

The application, with a few tweaks, could be approved under new hotel regulations under consideration by the Ketchum City Council.

The regulations likely won't be finalized until January, so the applicant may have to amend the application, Ketchum Planning Director Herold Moniz said.

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