A Great Escape

The National Trust established Historic Hotels of America in 1989 to identify quality hotels that have faithfully maintained their historic integrity, architecture and ambience. To be accepted into Historic Hotels of America, hotels must be located in a building that is at least 50 years old and listed in, or eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places or recognized locally as having historic significance. 170 member Hotels are located in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, range in size from eight to 1,407 rooms and charge from $69 to $15,000 per night. Send an e-mail to hha@nthp.org with your name and full mailing address to receive a directory (There is a $3.50 charge to defray the costs of shipping and handling. An invoice will be sent with your directory).

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Grand Architecture by the Hands of Nature and of Man

Love of National Parks and their Great Lodges Turns into PBS Series Companion Book
Do you remember the awe of your first visit to one of our national parks? When you saw the Grand Canyon? Felt the spray from Old Faithful? Do you remember the adjectives you tried to find to describe the experience, scenery, and parks' grand lodges? The companion book to an upcoming four-part PBS-TV series, Great Lodges of the National Parks, echoes and strengthens all those reactions. There are spectacular full-color photographs of the 14 Grand Lodges, their interiors, plus double-page spreads of many natural wonders of the national parks. However, the real strength of this illustrated history of the architectural treasures in our parks is author Christine Barnes' ability to tell the story of the conception, design, and completion of each of these lodges, their trials and triumphs, and the need to preserve them for generations to come.

Before dedicating herself to writing books, Christine Barnes culminated her 18-year distinguished newspaper career as Features Editor at the San Francisco Examiner. During a simple weekend trip to Oregon's renovated Crater Lake Lodge, she became fascinated with the lodge and soon began contacting architectural historians at various national parks. The relationship between each lodge, its park and the architecture unfolded, and Barnes was amazed that these stories had not been captured in book form, nor illustrated with both historic photographs and contemporary images.

"My husband and I moved to Bend, Oregon from the Bay Area seven years ago with no job plans, but with a year to travel and decide what to do. In the spring of 1995, I took my husband to the newly reopened Crater Lake Lodge for his birthday. He had been there as a child, but I couldn't believe Crater Lake, and the lodge that was perched on the edge of this incredible caldera. Once a journalist always one, I suppose -- I wrote a magazine piece on the reconstruction and reopening of the lodge. Once I wrote that piece, I began to look at other lodges and the book idea just came together."

Aware of how often these reminders of our past are in jeopardy of being closed or even demolished, Barnes began to writing the lodges' stories, using her skills to help the reader visualize the splendors, wonder at the vision of the men and women who created the parks and lodges, and experience the difficulties of constructing these irreplaceable buildings. "I work very closely with the NPS historical architects, historians, museum curators or whomever has the knowledge and passion about the cultural history of the parks. They are often my first point for information, and I ask them to be 'expert readers' of the drafts. I also like to share 'finds' about the lodges I have uncovered with them, and they often do the same with me. There is a joint respect for these buildings that we work from."

Barnes' dream of publishing the stories was also in jeopardy of disappearing. In order to get her message to the world, she needed a publisher with a vision as grand as the sunset vista from one of the great lodge's balconies. Amazingly, a retired entrepreneur who had moved to Oregon because of his love for the countryside was practically her neighbor. "That's when I met Don Compton. It was really serendipity. He asked what I was working on, and I said a book on historic lodges of the West. He later called and said he wanted to publish it. Well, that was interesting, because he was not a publisher. But there was something so solid about Don, that the idea was not as odd as it may sound. I put together a proposal -- which I always say is like writing a mini-version of a book -- and we agreed on W.W.West, Inc. publishing the book."

"First of all, I'm in love with the lodges myself," says Compton. "Running into Christine was great because it was just the kind of thing I wanted to get into." The pair went to work and first result was Great Lodges of the West (1997) and then the follow-up Great Lodges of the Canadian Rockies (1999). The books were doing very well, winning publishing awards and selling in bookstores and at the national park gift shops. Always the innovator, Compton came up with the idea of printing custom covers for three of the most visited lodges: Ahwahnee at Yosemite, El Tovar at Grand Canyon, and Timberline at Mt. Hood. "The folks at Ahwahnee said, 'We could sell a lot more books if our lodge was on the cover.' So we made that happen, and also did it for the two other lodges." Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone is featured on the original cover.

Compton soon began aiming his innovative thinking at an even loftier goal - television. "I thought the concept would make a great PBS documentary, bringing attention to these amazing buildings, and also explaining their historical significance and role as the show pieces that attracted the early tourists from the East that gave political support to the National Parks system. When I contacted PBS they weren't convinced I could handle the project and suggested I find a partner. I didn't know it at the time, but Oregon Public Broadcasting is one of the nation's leading producers of documentaries, and they were interested. They also hooked me up with John Grant, a great producer who had done documentaries on railroad history and lighthouses."

Expanded and revised, the new title will once again center on the historic Great Lodges, and will travel into the parks to explore the magnificence of Half Dome in Yosemite, the geysers at Yellowstone, Wizard Island at Crater Lake, and the wildlife that inhabits these and the other parks. The reader will discover new chapters on Zion Park Lodge in Utah, Grand Canyon Lodge on the North Rim, and the picturesque mountain chalets in Glacier National Park, plus passionate first-person accounts of lodge memories and the wondrous environment surrounding them. Fred Pflughoft and David Morris's 175 stunning photographs, including exterior and interior views of these extraordinary lodges, will make readers want to schedule their vacation immediately.

W.W.West's passion for preservation is very real. Acknowledging this, Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation wrote the forward to both Great Lodges books. Barbara Pahl, director of the Trust's Rocky Mountain Region is featured in the PBS special. With seed money from W.W.West, a designated fund has been established to raise money for future restoration of historical and cultural structures in the parks.