The Dundee Lodge, today (2016).

The Dundee Lodge, today (2016).

Dundee Lodge is a rustic retreat built in 1920 located in Gaston, Oregon, about one hour west of the city of Portland.  It is now being renovated with the intention of use for group gatherings and retreats, community events/house concerts, and occassional weddings.  It suffered many years of neglect, but is now owned by a family whose desire is to bring the lodge back to life, care for it, and share it and its history.

"We are honored, more than anything, to be here.  To be the stewards of this amazing place.  To take care of it- and to share it.  That is our intention."                    ~ Hayden & Kya

  The Eckstrand-White family:  Kya and Hayden, Freya (on lap) and Soren

The Eckstrand-White family:  Kya and Hayden, Freya (on lap) and Soren

"Twenty years ago, Hayden White’s dad, Carl, saw an unusual want ad in The Oregonian.  The owners of the historic, but then-vacant, Dundee Lodge outside of Gaston wanted someone to live there and renovate it.  After interviewing about 140 applicants, they chose Carl and Hayden for the job.  Complications ensued, however, and the White duo never ended up moving there. In fact, the whole renovation project fell through.

But Hayden, now 40, always remained wistful about that lost opportunity — until July 2014, when an even more complicated chain of events brought him back to the lodge, this time with his wife, Kya Eckstrand-White, and two children, Soren and Freya. 

Their plan is to renovate the 97-year-old structure so it can be used for lodging, as well as events such as weddings, reunions, concerts, retreats, farm-to-table dinners and even occasional farm-life education programs."

Original article from: The Forest-Grove New-Times 9/2/2015

And the story continues...

Before moving to the lodge, Hayden and Kya were searching for a property to buy in the Yamhill area.  Hayden suggested they "go check out the lodge" so they drove up to see if anything had changed.  It hadn't. However, there was a FOR SALE sign up!!  Looking up the listing though, they quickly learned that it was WAY out of their ballpark.  But they refused to give up.  After touring the next day, and despite the condition of the place, Hayden and Kya were determined.  They called one of the owners (who immediately replied "Hi Hayden!  And how is your father doing?") and proceeded to attempt to convince her that they were the best people to pass the torch to.  However, after months of negotiations, business planning, and proposed lease-to-own agreements, they hit a wall.  They had to move out of the house they were renting by June 30, 2014, as it was being torn down for a development.  By the end of May, they still hadn't finalized anything and Hayden and Kya then started searching for another home.

After a few weeks, however, an idea came to mind.  The owners had given the tenants 60 days notice on April 30, as part of the process of Hayden and Kya moving there.  Sooooo, they decided to ask if, despite the lack of a long-term agreement, they could move there as renters.  The owners happily agreed, but warned, "you know it's not habitable, right?"!

Their friends were just dumbfounded.  It was one thing to buy it and attempt to restore it, which in itself was rather crazy, but to do so without a lease was another kind of crazy.  But what did they have to lose?

They immediately set to clearing the lodge out- dump load after dump load...bleach and soap and so much more.  The roof leaked and there was at least 6 inches of moss on it.  There were approximately 30 cats living there (fortunately, only one and her kittens had been allowed inside).  One sink, the bathtub and one toilet worked (although had to flush manually), but then the septic started backing up in the basement.  No one knew where the septic tank was located, so the neighbor came over with his brush hog to clear the blackberries covering the main field.   Along with a scope, it was found and the whole system cleaned out.

Fall came and negotiations hadn't progressed much.  By November 2014, the initial excitement and energy Hayden and Kya had arrived with was nearly spent.  It was a sad day when they decided they couldn't do this if it wasn't theirs.  It wasn't the need to own, but a protection of themselves, their resources, time and energy.  If it could be ripped from their hands at any moment and be told to leave, it just wasn't worth it.  So their search to buy a home began anew (but they didn't mention it to the owners out of fear they would have to leave right away).  They found a lovely place in Scotts Mills and put an offer on it.  They were beat out and kept looking... A historic farm in Salem was lovely but a bit too close to the city...

The winter was tough.  The only heat in the entire lodge was a clunky old highly-inefficient wood stove in the great room.  Hayden worked several months building a house at the coast, while Kya and the kids (Freya still a baby) camped out in the great room.  Space heaters, blankets and hats were routine.  And the hardest part for Kya was that there was nothing to work on (excpet finding the roof leaks) if they weren't staying! 

Months passed and in February 2015 the call came.  The owners were selling the lodge and the 165 acres.  One of the siblings, Mary, would be coming in the next month to show the lodge and she would encourage the buyers to work with them and let them stay until they could find a new home.

Well, that search became quite urgent.  The sale would be going through and even with some leniency in remaining at the lodge, Hayden and Kya knew their time was just about up.  Ay-yi-yi, the thought of moving again was quite overwhelming (if you know them, you'd understand!  They spent years collecting things "for the farm").  They revisited the Salem property which now seemed much more attractive when under pressure.  The day Mary came to show the buyers around, they called the owner and made an offer.

The buyer was Stimson Lumber, whose mill was just down in the valley below Hagg Lake.  Three men from the company came up with Mary (the owner) for a tour around.  They quickly realized that this beautiful old historic lodge was not something to be torn down, but restoring buildings is not something they do!  After hours of discussion, Mary came back and said that after Stimson purchased the property that they would like to sell Hayden and Kya the lodge along with up to ten acres.  WOAH!

So, the negotiations began and the nail biting continued. Stimson closed on the property in March 2015, but then the parties had to come to an agreement with them on purchasing the lodge piece.  Later that year there was a signed contract.  From there, the land had to be surveyed for the new property lines.  Stimson was extremely accommodating and great to work with.  It took many months for the survey to be processed by the county, but by early summer of 2016 they could move forward with financing.  Of course, that was another process that took months, but at last, on November 5, 2016, Hayden and Kya became the owners of the historic Dundee Lodge!