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Renovation efforts at the former Klondike Hotel and Restaurant in St. Helens’ waterfront district are moving forward and will be enhanced with a $200,000 grant.

The historic building received the grant from Oregon’s Main Street Revitalization Grant Program to “preserve, restore, and update this significant historic structure.” Erin Salisbury, president of the St. Helens Main Street Alliance, said.

The Klondike Building’s funded proposal includes critical foundation and structural repairs, an updated and repainted facade and eaves, restoration of the hotel’s original office and staircase, new restaurant porches, new dedicated restaurant entrance and signage, and upgraded exterior light fixtures.

Former owners Dave Wuollet and Roni Bartlett closed the restaurant and bar in late summer 2018, citing economic pressures and differences in lease negotiations. The building was later listed for sale for $799,000 by Sadaka Realty LLC.

Nestled in an iconic site along the Riverfront District in St. Helens, the grand 8,600-square-foot yellow Klondike Hotel and Restaurant sat idle until the fall of 2021, when it was purchased by Holcombe Waller, a resident of Portland.

Waller said he wanted to restore the restaurant and eventually the hotel. He acknowledged that the building needed to be brought up to standard, and he estimated that his restoration of the Klondike could cost “well over a million dollars.”

“Awarding the grant will help address a long-standing need in our community to reactivate this deferred maintenance property to support additional economic activity, tourist destinations and eventually a viable hospitality business in the waterfront district,” Salisbury said. “Work will follow guidelines established by the Secretary of the Interior’s Historic Rehabilitation Standards.”

Waller reopened the renovated restaurant for limited service during Halloweentown last year. In an interview published in October 2021, Waller told The Chronicle that his vision for the restaurant was to serve dinner concerts.

“Because I come from a background in music and performance, so I do small dinner concerts promoted using local and regional artists with a very focused dinner menu around attendees with tickets,” a- he declared. Restaurants are really tough, so we’re focusing on events for now to see what works.

The Klondike originally served as a boarding house in 1910 for local workers at the nearby sawmill and boat docks where McCormick Steam Company built steamboats, according to Sadaka Realty LLC. The three story hotel had a colorful history.

“It appears that behind the hotel was a bathhouse where the ‘working girls’ entertained guests,” Sadaka Realty LLC says in the entry for the webpage listing the hotel for sale or rent.

The hotel was closed in 1961. A fine dining restaurant and lounge later opened on the first floor of the Klondike, but was eventually closed.

The grant will be administered by the St. Helens Main Street Alliance, which screened seven potential applicants in the St. Helens area and selected the Klondike project for final application.

Oregon Heritage, a division of the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation, has awarded 28 revitalization grants worth a total of $5,000,000 to organizations in Oregon’s Main Street System across the state for building projects that encourage economic revitalization and historic preservation.

Funded projects range from facade improvements to basic facilities and housing with prizes ranging from $23,850 to $200,000. Revitalization grants are intended to fund community revitalization that will lead to private investment, job creation or retention, creation or expansion of viable businesses, or creation of a tax base. stronger through improving properties in designated downtown areas across the state.

The program also requires that at least 50 percent of grant funds go to rural communities, including St. Helens.

The Klondike Building’s funded proposal includes critical foundation and structural repairs, an updated and repainted facade and eaves, restoration of the hotel’s original office and staircase, new restaurant porches, new dedicated restaurant entrance and signage, and upgraded exterior light fixtures.

The awarding of the grant will help address a long-standing need in our community to reactivate this deferred maintenance property to support additional economic activity, tourist destinations and eventually a viable hospitality business in the waterfront district. Work will follow guidelines established by the Secretary of the Interior’s Historic Rehabilitation Standards.

It’s an iconic site along the Riverfront District in St. Helens but for some years…

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