Woodman Lodge – Restoring a Piece of Snoqualmie History

The historic downtown Snoqualmie improvement project was an effort to remember Snoqualmie’s history while bringing its historic core to life again.  That is exactly what Woodman Lodge owner, Peter La Haye, did with the historic building that is now home to the Woodman Lodge Steakhouse and Saloon.

The Woodman Lodge is a business anchor for historic Snoqualmie.  It draws patrons from all over the Eastside.  In fact, Peter says the acclaimed restaurant is thriving even while only drawing about 5% of its business from Snoqualmie Ridge – home to 80% of Snoqualmie’s population.  Quite a feat in the restaurant business, and speaks volumes for the caliber of the restaurant.

Woodman Lodge patrons experience a large menu that features items like the favorite Cowboy Steak, weekend-only house Prime Rib, and Tuesday’s All-You-Can-Eat baby-back ribs.  Chef Don Hoots and staff scratch make the majority of menu items…. all the way down to the daily soups and blue cheese dressing.  Fresh steak meat is brought in from first-class cattle ranches and hand-cut on site.  Very little is wasted. Even extra steak cuts are used for appetizers and hamburgers.

The Lodge’s upstairs caters to banquets and large groups, including fun, interactive Murder Mystery Dinners.  During my tour I watched banquet manager, Cassandra Coleman, ready the room for six large parties including a 25- person wedding rehearsal dinner.  It was educational to watch the behind the scenes work required to handle a busy Friday night.

When first entering the 108 year-old Woodman Lodge you might think, “What a great restoration job.”  That was my first thought until interviewing Peter.  It turns out the interior was a complete gut job.  The exterior was salvageable, but due to the building’s age and condition it was completely re-engineered to meet modern restaurant-use building codes.  Peter did such a meticulous job restoring the exterior and re-creating the historical interior that The Woodman Lodge earned restoration awards from the city, county and state.

The building was originally a 1902 Modern Woodsmen of America Camp 8630.  In the early 1900’s life insurance was non-existent and most area jobs came with high mortality rates.  The Modern Woodsmen Fraternal Organization started as a way to care for the families of fallen Woodsmen brothers.  Quite fitting that  Modern Woodsmen is now one of the world’s largest life insurance companies.  Camp 8630 (each Lodge was given a camp number) was sold in 1972 and became retail space until Peter’s 2006 building purchase.

The interior of the Woodman Lodge is a step back in time.  No detail was missed.  The bar, modeled after a history book 1903 saloon bar photo, was constructed in northern California.   35lb solid brass eagle talons support its zinc top.  Even the beer taps were hand-crafted in Europe to match the era design.   The antique “Prosperity” stove took two years to find.  Eagles flank its sides – symbols of the Woodsmen of America.  The coal stove was converted to natural gas; turns out the conversion cost more than the stove itself.  The grand staircase’s hand-crafted iron work mirrors tree branches.  Above the staircase hangs a beautiful, gold-plated, leaded crystal chandelier.  At the foot of the staircase sits a 1911 player-piano, which is now musician-ready or run by an iPod if needed.  Old growth, Canadian-harvested douglas fir timber flank the table tops and the  floors.  There are even real gas lamps lining the walls.

Peter La Haye overlooked nothing in his effort to hold the Lodge’s interior true to its historic exterior and give patrons a unique dining experience.  What began for Peter as a trip to Snoqualmie to see his sister, morphed into a two-year historic building renovation and successful restaurant opening.  This Woodman Lodge has it all – history, ambiance, charm and most importantly, incredible food and wine.

Upstairs dining room and antique bar

Crystal chandelier in the Woodman Lodge grand staircase

 

 

For more Woodman Lodge info visit www.woodmanlodge.com or their Facebook page.

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