Fifteen months after flames destroyed the Long Barn Lodge, blueprints are drafted for a new one to take its place.
"We're planning to rebuild. It's going to be beautiful. It's going to be absolutely gorgeous," said Melvin Meyers, maintenance supervisor at the lodge.
The flagship building of the Long Barn Lodge burned July 19, 2002. Nearby cabins, a skating rink and the Long Barn Post Office were saved, but the 84-year-old main lodge with 11 guest rooms, a restaurant, dining room and game room was lost.
Meyers said he and the rest of the staff members are looking forward to a new lodge with a top-notch restaurant and an entrance connecting the main building to the ice rink.
Lodge owner Scott Richards said the new project is up for bid right now, and he hopes to receive an offer and bring plans to the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors next month.
"We're hoping that this time next year, we'll actually have a new building," Richards said.
Fire investigators were unable to determine what ignited last year's blaze, Richards said, and the investigation has been closed.
While he would not disclose how much he received in the insurance settlement, Richards said the building was not fully covered and the money will only pay to fix about half the damage.
A few parties expressed interest in buying the entire Long Barn Lodge property, Richards said one potential buyer offered $2.3 million before the fire.
He said the property is almost more valuable now that the main building burned down, because a buyer can replace it with whatever they want.
"I had a substantial offer since the fire," Richards said, declining to give the exact price. "That, coupled with the insurance money we could have walked out and probably moved to the Cayman Islands or something."
Instead, Richards said, he felt he should stay in Tuolumne County and rebuild the lodge.
"Lots of times you see people who retire from their jobs, and they shrivel up and die," Richards said.