Lacamas Lake Lodge opens its doors to the community

Dedication ceremony will be held March 25

The Lacamas Lake Lodge and Conference Center is now open. A dedication ceremony is planned for Tuesday, March 25.

The event, emceed by Camas Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Brent Erickson, will begin at 4 p.m. Speakers will include Mayor Scott Higgins, Camas City Councilman Tim Hazen and Friends of the Camas Community Center President Nan Henriksen.

Contractor JWC Construction began work on the new facility in July. The 5,000 square foot building offers a main banquet hall that seats 150 people and overlooks the lake. There are two conference rooms, a large covered patio and a warming kitchen.

The $842,000 structure, owned and operated by the city of Camas, includes a fireplace with a mantle carved by a local artist using wood from a tree that formerly stood at the site. In addition, the building has vaulted ceilings, with large windows to take advantage of the lake views. The outside of the building features masonry work done by KGO Stone of Vancouver, using rock quarried from Camas.

Heritage Park, which offers amenities including boat docks and ramps, hiking trails, a playground, open space and picnic areas, is nearby.

Two Parks and Recreation Department employees now have their offices on site, 227 N.E. Lake Road, which is where citizens can register and pay for classes and events. The building will be available for rent by the public for dates after April 15, and is expected to be the location of a variety of community activities as well as private events. The Camas Community Center, located at 1718 S.E. Seventh Ave., will continue to be the site of some Parks and Recreation offices and activities as well.

Funding for the complete $2.1 million Lacamas Lake Lodge project is coming from a 15-year, $1.85 million, 3 percent interest loan from the State of Washington LOCAL program. Annual payments of $160,000 will be made from the city’s Growth Management Capital Facilities Fund using parks and open space impact fees and real estate excise taxes.

The remaining $350,000 was provided by the Friends of the Camas Community Center, money that was gifted to the non-profit more than a decade ago through the estate of the late Christine Kropp, a Camas resident and retired secretary at Crown Zellerbach (now Georgia-Pacific owned by Koch), who donated $1.75 million to a variety of local non-profit organizations following her death in 1998.

In 2000 the city purchased the 5-acre parcel and a building that housed the Camas Moose Lodge, which was razed in April 2013.

The site has a long history in Camas area as a hub for recreation. A boat rental business owned by Ed and Faye Barthelemy and later a business known as Frank’s Moorage once operated there. Just south stood Fern Lodge, according to local historian and longtime resident Virginia Warren. It was used as a summer vacation cabin by the Leadbetter family (descendents of Camas paper mill founder Henry L. Pittock), and as a place where the family’s out-of-town visitors could stay. A caretaker also lived on the property, which included stables for horses, tennis courts and a boat launch.

Warren was invited to a party there when she was in the ninth-grade, around 1940.

”It was quite a lodge, and they called it ‘Fern Lodge’ because there are so many ferns out there,” she said.

The Leadbetter’s cabin was later torn down after the family sold a large chunk of property on the south side of the lake, which also included the Black Forest, to developers.