News: Woodland Hotel in Owen (New Owners - 2017)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon


Surnames: Peterson, Swiggum Hodnett, Rogers, Owen, Stark, Robinson, Crye, Wade, Crane, Patrie, Tufts, Lehnen,
Kestler, Mauel, Calloway, Nikolay, Wyeth, Lacey

-- -- Source: MARSHFIELD NEWS HERALD (Marshfield,  WI) 6/2017

(Copied from Al Hodnet Facebook Page)

Woodland Hotel In Owen (New Owners Breathe Life into it - June 2017)

OWEN - The main streets of Owen were once bustling as downtown businesses boomed. The Yellowstone Trail ran right through the small town and so did the railroad. 

The railroad is still there but many of the downtown businesses are quiet. There is a small cafe, a closed bowling alley, a few bars and a bank with a few people coming in and out. But, the Woodland Hotel is anything but quiet these days.

The historic hotel is getting a makeover from a trio of owners — Richard Peterson, Tim Swiggum, and Larry Hodnett, who hope to re-establish the small Clark County town of 930 people into a thriving and vibrant downtown once again.  They say the Woodland Hotel, which they purchased in 2015, is key to making that happen.  "This place was a destination," Peterson said.  "It was the centerpiece of the town. Everything was here a century ago.  It was a hotel, the post office, a bank, a barber shop. It was a one-stop place."

Larry Hodnett and Tim Swiggum, owners of the Woodland Hotel along with Richard Peterson, hope a renovated and re-opened Woodland Hotel will spark interest in downtown Owen once again.

Swiggum is originally from Monroe, but moved to Owen nearly 20 years ago and is the city's development director. He ran The Blackhawk Country Inn, now a tavern called The Thirsty Squirrel, for nine years. Hodnett, who grew up in the country side of Owen, is a trucker for Walmart and works on the hotel every other week. Peterson is retired and lives in Owen.

The Woodland Hotel was built in 1906 for the John S. Owen Lumber Company, which established the city of Owen.  Claude and Starck, an architectural firm from Madison, designed the Woodland Hotel for the lumber company and it
opened in late December 1906, according to the Woodland Hotel website.

The hotel once served as a business gathering spot for not just Owen, but the region, Hodnett said, as businessmen and salesmen rode the railroad and had a sampling room downstairs at the Woodland Hotel to showcase their products. The downstairs was a bar called The Tap Room, and later The Cavern Tavern. Hodnett's wife, Karen, said the bar was extremely popular.

The hotel, which was added to the historic buildings list in 2016, has largely been empty for more than a decade; it was open for a brief time in 2012. It has had just five previous owners before the current trio purchased it.  "When no one was interested was when I started thinking ... we have to buy it," Swiggum said. "We can't let someone come in here and auction it off or come in here and store their junk. It's too important to the community."

The new owners initially thought they could open shortly after acquiring the hotel in 2015, but quickly realized that wasn't going to happen, as major renovations were necessary.  The electric and plumbing had to be redone and updates to most of the three-story structure were needed, as a water leak caused significant damage to the main floor and upstairs as well.

Swiggum said the Woodland Hotel will include eight apartments and five hotel rooms. The former lobby will be a bakery in the mornings and a restaurant and bar will be open in the evenings. The trio may eventually re-open the downstairs bar, as well, but that's far down the list, they say.

The upstairs is nearly finished with refurbished hardwood floors, and the interior of the rooms harkens back to a mid-70s bed and breakfast. The main floor apartments are mostly spoken for as the new owners fixed those up first to have some income. Larry Hodnett's mom lives in one of the apartments. "We want it elegant, but not too elegant,"; Swiggum said, "It's going to be a working man's hotel, but a good place for the locals to go."

Once renovations are completed, the Woodland Hotel in downtown Owen will include eight apartments, five hotel rooms, a bakery, and a restaurant and bar. Photo taken on May 18, 2017, in Owen.  The owners say they do not have an estimate on when the Woodland Hotel will open for guests, but it will open as soon as the renovation work is complete.  "We know this hotel can really be a destination again, maybe not like it was, but be a focal point of the downtown," Swiggum said.



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