Driving by the old McCloud Hospital, it's clear that work is underway. Sheets of white waterproof tarping hang off the gables in the back like ruffly caps, and piles of discarded wood shingles sit in neat piles behind yellow caution tape. Workers climb ladders to inspect windows and the sound of hammering can be heard from the street.
"Phase I of the McCloud Project has begun," said Dr. Mike Staszel, gesturing to the 25,000 square foot building, which has seen better days in its more than 100 years but still commands an air of historic majesty.
Staszel and his wife Kat are planning to transform what was once the oldest hospital in Siskiyou County into a European-style retreat for women with breast cancer.
They see the peeling exterior walls painted a light lavender color, with hops and grapes growing on trellises in front. They envision a bright and sunny solarium, large dining spaces, a patio to serve 5 o'clock teas, meeting areas and several quaint guest rooms to accommodate women who deserve a therapeutic getaway.
"We'd like to thank the community for all their support," said Staszel, a family physician who recently took over Dr. Jim Parker's practice in Mount Shasta. "We couldn't do it without them."
He also gave a special thank you to Home Depot, Benson Roofing, Watson Painting and Ark Design Roofing & Construction for the work they've done so far.
The Staszels plan to take renovation one step at a time and continue as fundraising allows.
Next month, they'll be serving up authentic European fare at McCloud's Biketoberfest on Oct. 12. All proceeds will go to the building's renovation.
They're hoping to serve fresh apple cider, homemade mushroom soup, cabbage stew, pork loin stuffed with dried fruit, sausage and a authentic few side dishes to hungry festival-goers.
Kat said when they first closed escrow on the place in August of last year, she had high hopes of opening it within a year. However, she now understands the enormity of the project and instead has set a goal of opening Lavender House to guests around 2017, when the building turns 110 years old.
The hospital was functional until the late 1960s, Staszel said, then it was used for medical and dental offices. Later it was transformed into a bed and breakfast, but it became vacant about 13 years ago and fell into disrepair.
The Staszels fell in love with the building last summer and purchased it from Dorothy Larsen, the wife of Dr. Andrew Larsen, who was one of the last doctors to use the hospital, Staszel said.
The project “keeps me motivated and cheerful,” said Kat, who is herself a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in April 2012, and has since successfully completed treatment, which included a mastectomy, a second surgery and radiation.
Page 2 of 2 - The Mt. Shasta area reminds her of the resort community where she grew up in Poland and she believes the picturesque and laid back town of McCloud is perfect for such a retreat.
“We want this to be a happy place where women can relax, meet others, make friendships or just spend time on their own,” Staszel said.
It’s often hard for people suffering from an illness to hear others tell them they know what they’re going through, Staszel said, because usually they don’t.
“There’s something different when you hear that from someone who actually has been through it, you can take it to heart and there is a bond created,” Staszel said.
Work so far
The first task to begin renovations was to replace the roof, which had been open to the elements in several places.
All the old wood shingles have been ripped off and plywood was installed along with modern insulation. The roof will soon be completely tarped and weather proofed, Staszel said.
They’re hoping to replace or secure all the windows and doors before winter comes.
For more about the McCloud Project, email the Staszels at firstname.lastname@example.org