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Indian Lodge now a ‘jewel’ againHistoric Fort Davis facility has recently undergone a $4.3 million renovationJeanie Yarbrough, right, hugs Marjorie Ferguson as she plays the piano for guests relaxing in the lobby on Thursday evening at the Indian Lodge in the Davis Mountains State Park.BY GEOFF FOLSOMPhoto by Joshua ScheideOdessa AmericanFort Davis Visitors to the Indian Lodge at Davis Mountains State Park are likely to notice some changes.“See the acoustic ceiling and the Brady Bunch double beds?” said Bryan Frazier of Texas Parks and Wildlife’s promotions and marketing, pointing to the “before” picture in a side-by-side comparison of a room involved in the lodge’s renovation.“They were ‘modernizing’ it, and it really changed the look of it,” he said.Ceilings, floors and fixtures at the lodge have been restored to the look of its 1935 opening, Frazier said. Gone are many of the changes made during a 1967 renovation, when 24 rooms were added to bring the facility to a total of 39.“We would like to see a lot of customers come out and enjoy it,” park complex manager David Bischofhausen said. “We would like to see public support.”The $4.3 million renovation of the Civilian Conservation Corps structure began in 2000. Until Thursday’s ribbon cutting, various sections of Indian Lodge had been closed until each room had been refurbished.“All the rooms are unique,” Frazier said. “They are similar, but they each have their own charm.”Original ceiling beams, made of Davis Mountains pine, have been re-exposed in the rooms. Adjustments have also been made to the lodge’s heating and cooling systems.“You had to have either hot or cool air,” Bischofhausen said. “After the weather started to cool off, and it suddenly turned hot, you had no way to go back to the air conditioning.“It would take a couple days for the heat to go to air conditioning and back,” he said.Now, each room has its own heating and cooling system with a thermostat.The renovation solidifies Indian Lodge’s claim as the “crown jewel” of the 31 state parks the Depression-era CCC worked on in Texas, Director of State Parks Walt Dabney said.“The place was well-worn before, but the spirit was still there,” he said. “Now, you’ve got a four-star or five-star quality place.”The lodge is already attracting groups to its renovated room. The State Bar of Texas brought 46 people in for an executive committee meeting over the weekend.“This is my pick,” bar association president Martha Dickie said. “I just love this part of the country.”“I’m with a bunch of technophiles and their BlackBerries don’t work,” she said. “They actually have to pay attention.” The renovation was worth the money, Dabney said.“If it gets ratty, it loses its viability rapidly,” he said. “People will say, ‘If you go to the state park, don’t go to Indian Lodge.’ ”Adding staff and sprucing up the lodge’s restaurant facilities are the next step, Dabney said. Adding areas appropriate for large gatherings like weddings or banquets is also desired.“When you come here, we want you to have a great experience — and learn about the history and environment here that you don’t know,” he said.Dabney hopes that the changes at the 2,700-acre Davis Mountains State Park will lead to more state park funding.“We’re way behind in taking care of what we have, and we’ve done nothing to prepare for a population that may double in the next 15 years,” he said.Regional state parks director Mike Hill said the problems with the parks are growing.“Folks who would have been coming to Texas are stopping in Arkansas or Oklahoma because their parks are so much better right now,” he said.With the renovations, Dickie said the lodge is even better than when she stayed around Christmas 2001. She appreciates its “rustic luxury” of her room in the original section of the lodge.“They’re just in pristine shape,” Dickie said. “The newer rooms are just beautiful.”“This is a fairly picky crowd,” she said. “They whine a lot, and no one is whining now.”
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