Facts on the historic architecture of Bark used as siding on homes dating back to the Indians and our European ancestors.
The Adirondack-style lodge, featuring chestnut bark siding, was built in 1932 on the site of Confederate Army General Wade Hampton’s family cottage. The history of the place as a mountain retreat goes back to the early 19th century, and its tradition continues today as a haven for relaxation and family recreation.
HIGH HAMPTON INN: 85 YEARS OF SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY
by Ann N. Yungmeyer / photography by Murray Lee
When whites arrived in the area around 1800, Dakota (Sioux) and some Ojibwe (Chippewa) Indians were living here. The Dakota were then mostly plains dwelling people, living in skin tents and hunting buffalo. The Ojibwe lived in bark homes in wooded areas of Minnesota north and east of Clay County. They came to the Red River Valley to hunt buffalo.
Clay County Historical Society © 2001
The Chateau at Oregon Caves National Monument is a rustic hotel in the Siskiyou Mountains adjacent to the entrance to the cave in the only active limestone formation in Oregon. The Chateau is part of a larger development that includes a chalet (dormitory/gift shop/multiple use structure), several employee and rental cottages, and a visitor contact station, all under consideration for National Register status as part of a district. The buildings were all constructed between 1923 and 1941. The Chateau is without question the most outstanding of the structures.
The Chateau is a six-story structure with a reinforced concrete foundation and a superstructure of wood frame construction with enormous post and beam interior supports. The building spans a small gorge and a great deal of the building's mass is banked into that depression. The first floor houses mechanical equipment. The second contains basement storage areas. The dining room, coffee shop and kitchen areas are on the third floor--at the same level as the lower trout pool grotto at the immediate head of the gorge. The fourth floor is at road level and contains the entrance lobby and some hotel rooms. The two upper stories have additional hotel rooms and living quarters for the manager.
Exterior walls are shiplap siding sheathed with cedar bark, giving the building a shaggy, rustic appearance. The main gable roofs are steeply pitched and are pierced by shed-roof dormers further broken by gabled-roof dormers.
The large lobby on the fourth floor of the building (entered from the level of the parking lot) contains a huge double fireplace of marble construction. The exposed wood beams of enormous size (about 18x24 inches) are supported by peeled log posts with 30- inch diameters. The applied wood decoration at the joints simulates wood joinery and is non-structural. The subtle grey appearance of the wood is due to airborne particles of cement that settled on the wood when sacks were beaten on the posts during construction. Portions of the wood not initially tinted by the cement were colored to match. Leading from the lobby to the downstairs dining room and coffee shop and upstairs to hotel rooms, is a handsome rustic staircase of oak, madrona, and pine or fir. The open stairwell shows off the structure of the stairs to great advantage. The simple oak treads rest on pairs of notched log stringers. The logs are nearly the same size as the log posts of the lobby. The darker wood of the peeled madrone balusters and the lighter wood of the handrails and newel posts are smooth-finished but retain softened gnarls and knots. The natural light from the plate-glass windows that overlook the trout pool only emphasize the stairwell and draw the viewer s eye from the darker portions of the lobby.
The most common interior wall finish is a wainscotting of heartwood from the California redwood with pressed fiberboard above. The fiberboard is original and unaltered. New carpeting covers the original linoleum of the lobby and the hallways and rooms of the hotel. The large plate glass windows in the lobby, main stairwell, and dining room are topped with twenty-six lights above. All of the windows in the building are wood frame and vary from eight-over-one double hung to nine-light casements.
The dining room and coffee shop on the third floor retain considerable original character. The stream is still channeled through the dining room. The original wood floor in the dining room, damaged by flood during the 1960s, has been replaced with a plywood subfloor and linoleum tile. New wooden partitions (removable) that are jigsawn in a pattern reminiscent of Bavarian/Swiss chalet detailing separate the small bar area and the employee section of the dining room. The open room configuration remains. The coffee shop, completed in 1937 retains its birch and maple counters and knotty-pine panelling. The present tile floor replaces the original oak parquet floor that was damaged during the 1963 flood.
The arts-and-crafts style furniture throughout the building is original and in excellent condition. The wood furniture has leather and metal detailing, and some sports painted designs. Period wrought-iron and brass lamps, sconces, and chandeliers light the interior. Other interior decoration includes Kiser tinted photographs of local scenes. Hardware on the doors is also original.
One of the reasons the building fits so well with its setting is that most of the construction materials are local in origin. The principal timbers were cut a short distance away and trimmed at a mill on the Caves Highway. The cedar bark for the vertical siding came from a railroad-tie cutting operation nearby. The marble for the stone fireplace was blasted out of adjacent bedrock while the development was under construction.
Changes to the building have been minimal. A new sprinkler system with cast-iron pipes was added to the building in 1955.
Flood damage in 1963 necessitated the changes to flooring materials in the dining room and coffee shop. The steel fire escapes with their wooden catwalks were added in 1962 after the wooden verandas were irreparably damaged by snow. These changes have done little to alter the integrity of the building.
Certain landscape architectural features in the vicinity of the structure contribute to the ambience of the building. These features, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps under the direction of Park Service landscape architects Merel Sager and Francis Lange, include the trout pools, water falls, stone retaining walls and parapet walls, and the campfire circle. Also included is the stone curbing that borders pathways within the boundaries.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The prime significance of Oregon Caves' Chateau lies in its designer's extraordinarily creative use of the limited building site and how he allowed the site to dictate major architectural choices. Inseparable from that is the extremely high integrity of the building, the furnishings, and the site. Of local significance is the importance of the development of Oregon Caves, fostered by a group of local businessmen who formed the Oregon Caves Company--the monument's concessionaire--to stimulate the depressed economy in the area.
Oregon Caves was discovered in 1874 and became a national monument in 1909. The resort potential of the area had been promoted during the late nineteenth century but little development was accomplished, perhaps because of the area's remoteness. By 1913 the congressional representative had introduced a bill to establish Oregon Caves National Park hoping to remove it from U.S. Forest Service jurisdiction and thus facilitate the construction of a hotel and a good road for the area. Changes in U.S. Forest Service regulations regarding leasing lands for hotel and recreation sites in 1915 stimulated interest again in the resort potential of the caves; but not until 1923 did local businessmen form the Oregon Caves Company and take over food services, overnight accommodations, and tours through the cave.
The early structures built by the company included the Chalet, cottages, and tent houses. By 1929 the company spokesman was announcing plans to construct the Chateau. Construction was underway by 1932 and completed in 1934 for a cost of $50,000. One regional newspaper boasted of the new hotel "patterned after Swiss Chalets,"  while another commented:
The new Chateau, unquestionably responsible for the major part of business increase at Oregon Caves, is deserving of more than casual examination, for several reasons: Native materials were used in all places possible, which employment has resulted in a building entirely in harmony with its surroundings. Marble blasted from the spot on with the inn stands has been laid up in one of the largest fireplaces in the state-- if not on the coast. Douglas firs, felled from adjoining hillsides, support the enormous structural beams in the attractive lounge and dining rooms. The stairway is perhaps the most ingenious piece of construction in the entire house. Two large logs form the strings, on which have been set three-inch oak treads cut from trees in the valley a few miles below. Madrona balusters support a fir handrail. This stairway is a conspicuous feature of the lounge. There is also a maple floored ballroom.... 
Even the park service landscape architect assigned to work there wrote of the building's "original architecture." He commented that the Chateau created
William West Durant, son of a railroad tycoon and the first Adirondack developer, began what is considered the first "Great Camp" on the shores of Raquette Lake in the late 1870's. Called Camp Pine Knot, it was a collection of rustic dwellings resembling the Swiss chalets he had seen in Europe, but with primal, naturalistic appeal that heralded in a whole new architectural style. Cottages were designed specifically for sleeping, or dining and other functional uses. The Main Lodge connected to these outer buildings by covered pathways ornamentally decorated with bark, branches and twig rails and roofs. Roaring fires in native stone fireplaces warmed guests on cool or damp days. Vertical bark half-log siding blended into the lofty wooded surroundings.
To Pine Knot, Durant invited the wealthy millionaires of the late 19th Century - who welcomed the serenity and privacy or the pristine woodland lakes. Out of the crowded, disease-ridden cities they came, the Vanderbilts, the Morgans, the Whitneys and Huntingtons. They acquired huge tracts of land in the newly formed Park and hired architects who could copy the Durant style and began entertaining lavishly. Entire communities of local people found year-round employment as builders, guides, caretakers, cooks, and housekeepers. Interiors carried out the rustic theme with twig and peeled log furnishings, creating even today - a whole new cottage industry. Many have survived and open to the public. I recommend the following sites and reading suggestions:
- Sagamore Durant built retreat for the Vanderbuilts
- Adirondack Museum In Blue Mountain - Long-term exhibit.
- Bearhurst Lakeside Cottages in Speculator, NY
- Kaiser's Great Camps of the Adirondacks
- Slideshow Great Camps on Raquette and "Durant Days" information.
- Adirondack Style By O'Leary and other Rustic Design at Amazon.com.
- Adirondack Furniture and Rustic Tradition by Craig Gilborn
Big Bear Cabins - click here for History and Photos