When the Sargent’s purchased Buckhorn, Bruce Sargent’s mission was to restore Buckhorn to its historical resort state from the 1930’s. His first step in making that happen was getting Buckhorn Mineral Springs property listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District. Over almost 30 years the lodge, cabins, vapor bath houses and numerous other buildings were restored.
Buckhorn Mineral Springs property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a Historic District
Buckhorn Springs Restoration
In late August of 2002, the Sargents were startled by a terrible loud collapsing noise followed by a second identical noise, which they soon discovered to be the west and south wall of the Physiotherapy Clinic collapsing. The clinic was rebuilt and restored in typical Sargent fashion with every attention to detail and fine craftsmanship.
When the Sargent’s bought Buckhorn Springs in 1988, they knew then that the first and hardest thing they had to do was restore the lodge. Bruce began the challenge by uncovering historical photos of the exterior of the lodge from 1892. Using these he was able to accurately reconstruct the exterior to resemble the photos as closely as he could. “I was lucky enough to use the historic photographs taken of the front of the Lodge to scale all the necessary dimensions such as wall height and door and window size and placement,” says Sargent. Bruce was unable to find any information on the interior, which left him free to come up with a new floor plan to meet the modern comforts of today, such as more spacious rooms and indoor plumbing.
In 1864, the core of the Lodge was originally built as a typical homestead house. It was approximately 15 feet by 25 feet, two stories with two rooms on each floor. In 1892, James Clarke Tolman had the home expanded into a Lodge. There were many changes over the years including a fire along with major interior remodeling in the 1960’s. When the Sargents purchased Buckhorn in 1988, although the Lodge’s footprint was essentially the same as it had been in 1892, it was unrecognizable from the early days.
“The lodge restoration started in 1990 and was substantially completed by 1992 with the help of over 40 different people; however, work has been ongoing, completing different projects during the off-season. Having the opportunity to bring this building back to life with guidance from old photographs and accounts, as well as using many different acquired skills, has been inspiring. To my surprise, I discovered that maintaining the Lodge over a 20-year time frame has been my biggest challenge. Things keep needing to be fixed! Finally, after more than 20 years, in 2008 and 2009, I was able to bring the Lodge back to its original appearance by duplicating the porch roofs and pole railings around its extensive decks. Finally, I had the chance to complete the part of the Lodge restoration that I had dreamed about since I first saw Scott’s historic photograph.”
– Bruce Sargent, Owner Operator and Builder Architect of Buckhorn Springs from 1988 to 2021
In 2005, Buckhorn Mineral Springs received another grant from the State Historic Preservation Office, which covered restoration work on the most significant part of Buckhorn’s history, the Vapor Bath House area. Bruce Sargent used photographs from 1989 and physical evidence to rebuild; the log footbridge, well shelter and gazebo, which had all rotted beyond repair.
The Vapor Bath House itself was in the best condition of all of Buckhorn’s structures. However, the vapor bath stalls, which are filled with naturally occurring carbon dioxide (CO2 ) required restoration. The stalls are compartments in the floor, which patients would step down into, sit on a bench and close the lid, leaving their head above floor level. Bruce was presented with a unique building challenge in which he had to wear a scuba mask and snorkel with extended tubing in order to breathe while working down in the stalls. Interestingly, he found that all evidence of the nails that were used to build the stalls in the mid 1930’s had completely disappeared due to the CO2.
The restoration process was a family affair with the help from Leslie, Russell, Lauren and Quinn Sargent, along with Frank Vitaris and Lee Michalson.
Buckhorn Mineral Springs received its first grant in 2001 from the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office to do stabilization and preservation work on Cabins 7, 8, 9, and 10 in order to halt further deterioration. It is believed that these cabins were built around 1892. In the 1930’s they were moved from their original location at the North end of Buckhorn’s pasture to their current site.
To begin this project, twenty-two juniors and seniors from Ashland’s Wilderness Charter School helped take apart Cabin 7, carefully lifting whole sections of wall out of the way for a new foundation. Under designer/builder Bruce Sargent’s direction his son Russell, Gilad Margalit, Josh Kingsbury, Ciel Alzado and Asa Cate all helped with the restoration. In 2010 and 2011, with assistance from Russell, Tim Sargent, and Michael David Uri, the interior restoration of these cabins was completed.