It wasn't too long ago that construction crews were cutting blocks of snow with chainsaws in order to work on Callahan's Lodge. Now the metal roofing is 70 percent complete, most of the drywall is up and stonework for the fireplaces is on track.

The Southern Oregon landmark, which burned to the ground in the summer of 2006, should reopen by mid-July, according to owners Ron and Donna Bergquist.

"We have a wedding booked for July 18," Ron said. "So that's the deadline we're shooting for."

Keith Richardson, operations manager for the lodge, said, "This was one of the worst winters we've had and it really slowed things down."

Lodge employees Richardson, Wally Crum, Page Severson used that slow time to handcraft nearly all of the wood furniture for Callahan's. The team milled wood from Klamath Falls, creating dressers, headboards, fireplace mantels, side and banquet tables, bedroom trunks and sliding panel dividers for the banquet room.

Richardson said handcrafting their own furniture wasn't a less expensive option, "but you just can't find that kind of craftsmanship today."

Richardson said installing the stairs in the four-story structure was another winter adventure.

"We had to cut a hole in the roof and a crane lowered the stairs into the lodge," he said. "I've never seen anything like that before. It was really something."

New chef named

The Bergquists hired executive chef David Bartlett from Prineville's Meadow Lakes Golf Course in April. Bartlett, who was born in Medford in 1955, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York in 1983 and has worked at some of the finest restaurants in Oregon, said Donna.

"I think my history of working at restaurants that are over 100 years old may have influenced Ron and Donna's hiring me," he said. "They saw that I could make some improvements, but still honor traditions."

Bartlett said people stop by Callahan's all the time to check the progress of the lodge.

"And everyone keeps asking me if we are still going to serve spaghetti," he said. "Yes, we're still going to serve the spaghetti and other Italian dishes. But we're also going to serve food with an Oregon mountain lodge spin to it."

Bartlett said he plans to prepare food that highlights what Oregon and the Rogue Valley offers &

cheeses, wines, salmon, racks of lamb and trout.

"We're going to try as much as possible to use fresh and local products," he said. "I'm even looking to create a beer batter using Caldera ale."

Donna, who's currently working on interior color schemes, said she can't wait for the lodge to open.

"This has given us an opportunity to see Callahan's into the future it deserves &

full of energy and passion," she said. "When we bought the lodge, we were kind of step-owners. The former owners did a fantastic job &

but now we've made it our own."

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