Baker City’s Pythian Castle remains a distinctive example of downtown Baker City architecture but its interior hasn’t aged as well as its exterior of locally quarried Pleasant Valley tuffstone.
Heidi Dalton hopes to change that.
Dalton bought the Castle, which was built in 1907 as a hall for The Fraternal Order of the Knights of Pythias, a nonsectarian organization, earlier this year with the goal of restoring the inside of the building to its former glory.
Two days later, Dalton started work on the Castle, at the southwest corner of First Street and Washington Avenue.
She’s had the interior stripped to the framing, with the original windows, boards and other materials scattered on the floor, waiting to be reused.
While Dalton wants to modernize the Castle a bit, she also intends to retain its original charm.
“Almost everything is being reused,” Dalton said. “Most of the pieces of trim are being reused and the original hardwood floors are being refinished.”
Dalton said that the history behind the Castle was one of the biggest reasons why she bought it.
“I think it’s amazing to think of all the people who have walked on these same stairs,” she said.
Dalton said she bought the Pythian Castle from a bank for $400,000, and she hopes to have the renovations done by the end of summer. She sees the building as both an investment — with the downstairs offices and an apartment bringing in revenue — and a home for her and her two daughters.
Dalton is a designer, as well as the former executive director of the Baker County YMCA. She has restored homes in the past, but she said this is “definitely the biggest project I’ve ever tackled.”
When finished, the Castle’s 17,000 square feet will include The Hen House Cafe on the first floor, an architectural design studio, six offices for businesses to lease, a basement apartment, a full housing area on the second floor where Dalton plans to live with her daughters, and a ballroom with stained glass windows.
Dalton said that she plans to turn the ballroom, once the site of parties, into an event center that could be rented for weddings, parties and fundraisers when restrictions on the size of gatherings are eased.