For the last year I've been assessing, designing, remodeling and maintaining the historic Jennings Hotel in Joseph, Oregon.
I've assembled an exceptional group of designers and craftspeople, each of whom will transform a room at the Jennings into thoughtfully designed accommodations for your visit to the best little mountain town in the west.
The Jennings building has been a landmark in Joseph, Oregon for over 100 years. Unfortunately, for the last 30 it has been underutilized and mostly collecting dust. In a town of a thousand people, a half empty building on Main Street has a real impact on the community and locals are excited to see The Jennings revitalized.
Wallowa County is one of the west's best kept secrets, a frontier larger than Delaware with fewer than 7000 people and more beauty than we know what to do with. We have the deepest canyon in North America in Hells Canyon, Oregon's largest wilderness area, the Eagle Cap and the largest bunchgrass prairie in the United States, the Zumwalt Prairie. The Jennings Hotel will be the first and only design-centric hotel in the region. The perfect home base to explore the stunning country that surrounds us, sample some of the renowned confections from our downstairs neighbor, Arrowhead Chocolates, or eat a divine meal prepared from local ingredients at the Lostine Tavern. The incomparable Wallowa Lake is less than two miles from our front door, along with hundreds of miles of hiking trails. There are many wonderful small businesses along Main Street, not to mention every year we host one of the best small town rodeos in the west, Chief Joseph Days, always the last full weekend in July!
I'm fortunate to have an amazing group of people willing to contribute their skills and help turn The Jennings Hotel into a piece of art. Working alongside of folks like Lisa Garcia, interior Designer and founder of Soñadora Handmade, Matt Pierce of Wood & Faulk and Brendon Farrell, architect and designer of Keeps Limited Edition, The Jennings will be reinvigorated into a consciously considered and beautifully appointed hotel.
In addition to offering nightly lodging, The Jennings will also serve as an artist residency, hosting artists from all disciplines to teach, inspire and collaborate with the community while making work and giving talks at the hotel.
The first artists in residence arrive this month. Christina Mrozik & Zoe Keller are two wildly talented women. Having recently published a book of their collaboratively drawn illustrations, funded through Kickstarter, I couldn't think of two better artists to open the Jennings residency program.
Having designed and built my own cabin, remodeled a house and built a photography studio, I know what it takes to concept and execute building spaces.
I spent two years creating the conditions in my life to make The Jennings Hotel possible, moving away from my home of 16 years and stepping back from the business I co-founded 10 years ago. Remodeling this hotel is no joke, it's my full time job. It's not cheap, either. All of the money I raise will go toward the hard costs of converting the Jennings from a rundown apartment building into a wonderful hotel in one of the most beautiful places in America. I'm working for free, but lumber, flooring, fixtures, electrical, paint, millwork, masonry, insulation, heaters, plumbing, tile, cabinets, windows, doors and skilled trades all cost very real money.
The brickwork alone is estimated at $26,000, painting after the masons are finished will be another $15,000. That's just exterior work and doesn't begin to touch inside the building. For each of the 9 rooms being remodeled there will be substantial expenses for material. As you can imagine, it all adds up quickly. Every dollar you contribute will go to the essentials of making this place whole again. $80,000 is the bare minimum to get this project off the ground. Anything in excess of my goal will be wisely spent hiring additional local help to speed up the timeline for making the Jennings fully operational.
Risks and challenges
I've been a small business owner for almost a decade, I understand the delays and pitfalls associated with making products and particularly with construction projects. The first room at the Jennings is already nearing completion, within a month of project funding backers will be able to come stay in room eight. Over the subsequent months I'll continue working diligently to keep the project moving forward and make the remaining rooms available for your stay.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter