Several sensations vie for attention when one pulls up to The Lodge at St Edward Park, located on the banks of Lake Washington and mere minutes from Seattle, Washington. There’s the awe set off by the boutique hotel’s landmarked Romanesque Revival architecture, there’s the peace and serenity wafting from the enveloping Pacific Northwest forests and there’s curiosity over a restorative transformation that turned a decaying structure into a contemporary hospitality epicenter. And this is only the start. A stay at The Lodge at St Edward is one of comfort and discovery, underscored by access to 326 wooded acres and 3,000 feet of freshwater shoreline.
Kevin Daniels, owner and preservationist at The Lodge at St Edward Park, first saw the architectural wonder—originally erected in the late 1920s—in 1984. “We had our rehearsal dinner just in front of the seminary building,” he tells COOL HUNTING of the historic centerpiece of the property, which was once an educational center for clergy members. “I didn’t know much about the building or its history at that time. I was still a practicing CPA and hadn’t yet moved into development.” More than 40 years later, in 2017, Daniels and his team would begin to transform it into a destination for a new community.
First, of course, a comprehensive plan was needed to salvage the building from years of neglect. This led to two-and-a-half years’ worth of renovation and restoration. “The state estimated there was over $50 million of deferred maintenance during the public hearings part of the RFP process,” he continues. “The building had been lightly used by Archdiocese from 1954 up until it closed in 1977, and then there was no use thereafter. The building had been allowed to decline gradually over those 40 years. Given its federally protected status, it was an extremely challenging process to adapt and reuse the building.”
Our focus is always on telling the story of the building and those who came before
Through the extensive rework, Daniels and the design team Daniels Real Estate carefully preserved the aesthetic of the seminary while transforming it into a welcoming luxury hotel. “Our firm has done many award-winning rehabilitations and our focus is always on telling the story of the building and those who came before while adapting it to a future use that will allow the building to survive and be shared with future generations,” he says.
Daniels weaved personal travel experiences that he and his wife, Mary, shared into his longterm vision for the property. All the while, he kept the grandeur intact. “That [facade] is federally protected so our job was to highlight it while creating the new use,” he says. Original architect John Graham Sr’s design was “exceptional, so all we had to do was faithfully adapt the building to its new use. It was not easy but we had an exceptional team that we worked with to overcome the many obstacles.”
Original attributes were transformed—and even highlighted—during the renovation, including the location of the 84 guest rooms; some thoughtful new additions also came to life alongside the heritage elements. “The entire building of the dorm rooms became lodging units, the priests’ common room became a bar, the classrooms became meeting rooms, while the kitchen and dining areas stayed the same use,” Daniels says. “We also tried to tell the story of Kenmore [the town in Washington where the hotel is located] and those who built it, through an art and historical narrative. So The Lodge is not only a boutique hotel with restaurant, bars and a wellness spa, it’s also a classroom, museum, a garden and apiary, and an art gallery that focuses on telling a constantly evolving story.”
The food and beverage outlets at The Lodge are destinations unto themselves. There’s Father Mulligan’s Heritage Bar not far from the check-in desk. Nearby, Cedar + Elm is an upscale celebration of seasonal, regional cuisine by chef Kevin Benner. It comes complete with a clever cocktail program. Downstairs, Tonsorium Bar (a nod to the fact that priests used to get their hair cut here) is imbued with a distinct whimsicality. It also hosts live music. “I wanted all areas to be welcoming and take you back in time to 1931,” Daniels says, “but also showcase the building’s former uses in a playful way.” Meticulous service can be found at all three on-site establishments.
Guest rooms are charming, underscored by the use of the original windows and doors. An undeniable highlight: each room’s stenciled wallpaper depicts the building’s architectural drawings. Amenities range from a snack-stocked game room, complimentary bikes and lawn games, a top-tier spa, and QR codes throughout the building that open pages on historic stories from the hotel and the surrounding grounds.
The state’s Parks and Recreation Commission played a critical role in bringing The Lodge to life. “Without their support of our vision the building would never have been rehabilitated,” Daniels says. “It is no overstatement that without their foresight and wisdom, the project would have had no chance to move forward. They were my heroes that stood their ground many times during the public process.”
The trails of St Edward Park and shoreline of Lake Washington are invaluable amenities that not only contribute to the environment, but the overall stay. “It’s a peaceful oasis in the middle of a hectic metropolitan area,” Daniels says. “It’s probably the best part of any experience and we strived to have as little of an impact on the park as possible. Hopefully our approach brings more people to experience the wonders of the park.” It’s not only easy to leave the hotel and venture into the trails, it’s also a glorious sojourn.
Convenience also plays a substantial role in a stay at The Lodge at St Edward Park. The compound is a little more than 15 miles from downtown Seattle and a little under 30 miles to Sea-Tac International Airport. “Hopefully it’s another shining beacon of what our area is capable of and allows others to enjoy its unique magnificence,” Daniels concludes. “We tried to reflect our area’s creativity and innovation while showcasing the natural environment without a heavy hand.” A serene synergy is evident immediately upon arrival.
Images courtesy of The Lodge at St Edward State Park