The Jennings Hotel: new life through Kickstarter?

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There’s a new Kickstarter campaign to renovate The Jennings, a wilted 100-year-old hotel in Joseph, Ore. And the individual behind the campaign, Greg Hennes, has some cool ideas to make the old hotel a destination spot for visitors.

The hotel has been a landmark in Joseph for more than 100 years. It’s sat vacant or underutilized for more than 30 of those years, a victim to some unfortunate 70s remodeling decisions.

Hennes, who runs Clutch Camera, a photo rental shop and studio here in Portland, purchased the old hotel and plans to use Kickstarter funds to transform the hotel, with the help from designers and craftspeople.

So far he has Lisa Garcia, interior designer and founder of Soñadora Handmade, Matt Pierce of Wood & Faulk, and Brendon Farrell, architect and designer of Keeps Limited Edition, in the wings to begin work.

The Kickstarter campaign will help renovate the building but also give these designers a budget to buy materials. None of the designers are being paid. “Many are friends or colleagues of mine and they’ll have complete creative control. I have my own aesthetic and each of these artists will bring their own aesthetic and make it more diverse,” says Hennes.

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Hennes isn’t wasting any time getting started – he’s already working on one of the rooms (when finished there will be eight rooms) and hopes each room, with each artist’s touch, will be different than his. If the Kickstarter campaign gets funded, artists will begin work at the hotel this summer. The first room will be ready in early July.

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Local tradespeople will be employed, mostly for specialized labor (i.e., plumbing, electrical) and Hennes will bring in local craftspeople, while artists will featured through an artist’s residency program.

And then there’s the retrofitting of the hotel.

Ceilings in each room at one point were dropped from 12 feet down to 8-and-a-half with a whole new structure with 2x6s and sheetrock. “I’ll have to go through and disassemble all of that and rebuild a new ceiling,” says Hennes.

Most of the windows are aluminum, single-paned and need replaced, as do the existing vinyl floor coverings and textured sheetrock. Exterior work will include brickwork and painting, both huge and very expensive projects “but worth it because it will give it a complete and utterly different feel.”

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Plans also call for balcony (“the only balcony in Joseph!”) access to be retrofitted into a collective kitchen/dining room that will adjoin the lobby.

So far the campaign is doing well – even descendants of the people who built the hotel have contributed – but with only mere days away, it still hasn’t met its goal.

If funded, the hotel will be a nice addition to Joseph and appears to be something the locals would welcome.

“People off the street who I’ve never met have said, ‘you’re the guy doing the hotel. Happy to see something happening with that place.’”

For more information and to contribute go here.

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