Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In Stanley, end of an era

Salmon River Lodge to pass to new owners this week

Express Staff Writer

Karen Day takes one of her final walks around the Salmon River Lodge property on Sunday. Photo by Willy Cook

In a goodbye that was at times poignant, at times nostalgic, the owner of Stanley's historic Salmon River Lodge threw one last hurrah before new owners take over.

Departing proprietor Karen Day and her family invited people to the lodge on Sunday to enjoy it in its current state one last time and to partake in a "closing sale." The family organized the event to bid farewell and say thank you to the Stanley and Wood River Valley communities.

Visitors carried off Adirondack chairs, signs, knick-knacks and other memorabilia—the sale of which benefited the Stanley school.

Smiling as she recalled many happy years spent on the riverfront property, Day nonetheless felt a sense of bitterness at the way her story unfolded.

Day bought the property in 2000.

"I knew exactly the slice of heaven I owned in the Salmon River Lodge and treasured it as a blessing," she wrote in an open letter distributed to the community and to the Idaho Mountain Express.

In late 2007 and 2008, as the recession hit, bank customers were left with uncertainty about their loans, lines of credit and mortgages. In April 2009, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. shut down the First Bank of Idaho, taking control of its deposit accounts and loans and freezing all lines of credit, including Day's.


Day previously said she never missed a mortgage payment with the bank, but without a line of credit she fell into default. She had no luck applying to other banks for financing.

She continued to operate the lodge as she sought a solution to hold on to the property.

Ultimately, she did not succeed.

Day said investor John Cassidy bought the Salmon River Lodge at a foreclosure auction last month. She said she made nearly a dozen offers to buy back the property, including an offer to Cassidy.

Day's daughter, Caitlin Zak, in a letter pleaded with the new owners to consider a sale.

"Every summer we have poured love, sweat and money into every inch on that property," the letter reads. "I know it may be just a place, but the sheer fact that a place on this earth can make my mother that happy is priceless."

Day said she will turn over the property to the new owners today, Aug. 31.

"In my decade-plus, we've hosted 30 marriages and thousands of tourists from all over the world," Day stated in the open letter. "It's been a blessing to share gorgeous Custer County with you."

John Cassidy did not immediately respond to an e-mail Tuesday seeking comment on his plans for the property.

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