Millions of Dollars Needed to Restore Oregon Caves National Monument Chateau

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — Stripped down to its studs, work on the Oregon Caves National Monument Chateau has ceased because millions of dollars are needed to restore the National Historic Landmark to its former glory.


Fundraising Drive Launched to Save 90-Year-Old Building

The six-story chateau was opened in 1934 but was closed to the public in 2018 to bring the building into line with the Americans with Disability Act standards. The $8.6 million project included rewiring and plumbing. It also had no elevator to cater to visitors. Once the project began it was soon discovered that the 90-year-old building needed a lot more work than originally estimated. Sue Densmore of the Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau said the foundations of the building had to be stabilized, as well as additional work to cope with possible seismic activity. The National Parks Service funded the stabilization project but did not have sufficient funding to upgrade restoration to the chateau.

Built at the base of the Cave Creek Canyon at the entranceway to the Oregon Caves, it is conservatively estimated that $10 million will be needed to complete all the exterior work. Once restored, the chateau will become the only National Parks Service historic lodge featuring original Monterey Style furnishings, western-style furniture handmade in the 1930s and 1940s and, in its day, popular with movie stars.

Once known as the Josephine County Caves and although today referred to in the plural as the Oregon National Caves, it is a single marble chamber situated in the northern Siskiyou Mountains in southwestern Oregon. The cave was discovered by Elijah Davidson in 1874 while on a hunting trip.

The single underground marble cave stretches 15,000 feet and can be explored with park rangers from March to November. There are different tour packages, ranging from family-friendly to adventurous.


Tourists Spend Millions of Dollars That Could Save Historic Chateau

Thousands of tourists visit the caves every year and, according to Colin Deverell of the National Park Conservation Association, visitors to the caves spent an estimated $6.8 million in nearby communities, much of which could have been spent at the chateau if it were open to the public.

A fundraising drive to save the chateau was launched at a Press briefing last Thursday by a coalition of organizations including the Friends of the Oregon Caves and Chateau, Restore Oregon, the National Parks Conservation Association, Illinois Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Visit Grants Pass.

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