SANTIAM PASS, Ore. - If you have ever driven over Santiam Pass, you've gone by a historic building that you probably didn't even know was there.
The Santiam Pass Ski Lodge was built in 1940 and originally was a winter recreational facility that could sleep up to 60 people in its dorms.
Since then, it has seen many changes to its purpose but has been empty for 30 years. Right now, it's an unusable building located just off of Highway 20, west of Hoodoo Ski Resort.
Dwight and Susan Sheets have gotten a permit to take over the operation of the lodge. The Salem couple plans to restore it to be a place where people can stop off and enjoy the views while warming up by the fire with a cup of coffee.
They currently don't have plans to provide overnight stays.
With the help of the Willamette National Forest and various restoration grants, they plan to once again open it to the public.
Dwight Sheets remembers coming to the lodge as a kid, and now he and his wife are determined to be the people who usher in another round of memories for a new generation.
"It's something that is going to take commitment over a number of years and we're coming into a place in our lives where we can do that," he said Tuesday. "And sometimes we feel like we should have done it 30 years ago. But nevertheless, we're at that place where we can give that kind of commitment."
The Sheets grew up in Oregon before moving back to the state in 2015, and now they want to give back to the Central Oregon community by undertaking this restoration project.
They said they are hopeful that they can create a place for Central Oregonians and travelers to enjoy for years to come.
The Sheets said they know this is a project that will take some time and will only be possible with the support of grant money and the community.
They said it was something that they were passionate about and ready to take on at this point in their lives.
"We needed to do something about it, and we just love the Santiam Pass," Susan Sheets said. "We grew up coming up here every weekend to ski or camp or hike. And our kids loved it when we visit once a year. So, that just kind of started it."
The Sheets said they are in this for the long haul, and are ready to get things moving on the restoration project.
They said they hope to have the lodge open to the public within the next two to four years.
The site was just put on Restore Oregon's 2018 list of most endangered places in the state, but this project aims to breathe new life into the building.
For more information on the Santiam Pass Lodge, click here.
Would you pay a visit, once it's renovated and reopens? That's our new KTVZ.COM Poll. Find it halfway down the right side of our home page.