Visiting the Chateau at the Oregon Caves is like traveling back to the 1930s. It’s also an opportunity to experience an architectural masterpiece in a setting of natural splendor. Built entirely from local materials by local workmen, the rustic six-story structure spans a gorge in a marble canyon. Part of the same stream that runs through the caves flows through a replicated stream bed in the dining room of the Chateau — a groundbreaking innovation by the designer, Gust Liam, that predates Frank Lloyd Wright’s first use of an interior stream by three years! Liam, who was an unheralded local contractor, is now considered one of the pioneers of environmental architecture.
The lobby is large and cave-like, with a huge double fireplace constructed from marble. There are enormous exposed wood beams supported by 30-inch diameter log posts. The exterior of the building is covered with its original siding of shaggy Port Orford-cedar bark. Outside the diner-style coffee shop, a rock waterfall cascades into a trout pond. The coffee shop was completed in 1937, and still has its original birch and maple counters and knotty-pine paneling. Throughout the lodge, in fact, much of the arts-and-crafts furniture is original, and still in excellent condition.
This is one of the most remarkable places anyone could hope to stay. It is an American treasure, and on the National Register of Historic Places. The Chateau is open from early May through the end of September.