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Dec. 5, 2020

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Summit Grove Lodge in Ridgefield earns spot on Washington Heritage Register

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:
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The Summit Grove Lodge in Ridgefield has achieved a listing on the Washington Heritage Register. "Some of the earliest histories in the Northwest took place here," said Brad Richardson, executive director of the Clark County Historical Museum.
The Summit Grove Lodge in Ridgefield has achieved a listing on the Washington Heritage Register. "Some of the earliest histories in the Northwest took place here," said Brad Richardson, executive director of the Clark County Historical Museum. (James Rexroad for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Carbon char stains the stones above the original 1927 fireplace hearth at the Summit Grove Lodge in Ridgefield.

But a closer look reveals the fireplace has been converted to be fueled by gas; and although updated, its history still shows.

The lodge itself is much like the fireplace. Now a venue for weddings and a weekly public Sunday brunch, the building offers modern comforts, but it also holds a unique story that stretches back to early 20th century of motorists gassing up on the old Pacific Highway.

The history of the Summit Grove Lodge, at 30810 N.E. Timmen Road, earned it a spot this month on the Washington Heritage Register, a designation given to over 1,500 buildings and places in the state with documented historical significance. Being on the list gives the building some protections, and it also is likely to be given a sign on Interstate 5, pointing motorists to the lodge on its 6-acre property with mostly old-growth forest.

“We’ve held to the authenticity,” said Linda Colf, assistant manager and member of the building’s ownership family.

“Some of the earliest histories in the Northwest took place here,” said Brad Richardson, executive director of the Clark County Historical Museum. “People definitely want to come to see what it’s all about.”

A north county gem

In the 1890s, a sawmill operator named Tom Headley bought the property and set up a place for travelers to stop for repairs or food. In 1900, the Curtis family bought part of the land and opened a soda and barbecue restaurant. As cars became more prevalent, the family installed a gasoline pump.

In 1924, William and Mary Marshall bought the business and established a restaurant and a cluster of cabins for guests.

Famous visitors — including Shirley Temple, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Frank Sinatra — further boost the historical significance of the lot.

The lodge suffered damage by the Columbus Day storm of 1962, and after other buyers purchased it years later, it fell into disrepair after a fire in 1982. In 1998, the owners began restoration and sold in 2003 to a group of investors including Genteel Investments LLC and a woman named Margaret Colf Hepola, a dignitary to north Clark County history.

The same year, the lodge was listed on the Clark County Heritage Register, and it soon thereafter underwent a renovation. It reopened in 2012 with all its modern amenities, including a new entrance way, kitchen and renovated rooms with TVs.

Hepola, who died in 2014, passed on her commitment to the custodianship of the lodge to her family, including her son Dick Colf and her daughter-in-law Linda Colf.

“They have saved so much history in north county,” said Richardson. “Just elevating it to that next level was a really important thing for us to do.”

Richardson helped the Colfs with earning the lodge its new designation. The application process led Richardson to scour microfilm at the Battle Ground Reflector and dig through archives at the county’s smaller history museums.

Earlier this year, Richardson presented the Summit Grove Lodge’s case to the Washington Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation, after which it awarded the lodge a spot on the Washington Heritage Register.

Since earning its spot on the Washington Heritage Register, the lodge receives property tax deductions and code waivers to protect its historical integrity.

No plans to change

Colf said the family has no plans to further renovate or add to the building.

“We’re not going to go larger,” she said. “We have to stay true to the authenticity, especially now that we’re on the register.”

Every Sunday, the lodge hosts a public brunch, and on the last Sunday of every month, a musician plays for guests. Every year it holds a full thanksgiving dinner, but Colf said all reservations are booked for this year. The lodge starts taking reservations for Thanksgiving dinner every October, she said.

For the weddings hosted at the lodge, guests have access to rooms designated for both the bride and groom. There’s a full kitchen, where head chef Mono Martinez prepares catered meals for the events. And in the back of the lodge, guests will find a waterfall and a covered area for ceremonies.

For many visitors of the Sunday brunch, part of the draw is the look and feel of the lodge.

“The timbers are impressive,” said Michele Owen, who comes with her family to a pre-Thanksgiving brunch every year. This year, 16 of her family lined a long table near the old fireplace. A few seats down from Owen, her grandson Finn McGuffin, 4, said his favorite thing about the lodge is the food — specifically the waffles, he said.

It’s the third year the family has came to the lodge, and Owen said “we’ll keep doing it.”

This story was updated to accurately state when Tom Headley bought the property.

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