It's been more than four years of blood, sweat and tears, but renovations at the historic Bush House Inn in Index are finally approaching the finish line.
To celebrate their forward momentum, Bush House Inn owners Blair and Kathy Corson are inviting the Sky Valley community to attend a historic photo shoot held at the old hotel from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 21. Also on Saturday, the Index Historical Society will be hosting walking tours at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., showcasing a total of 10 historical sites in the town of Index. Both events are being coordinated in conjunction with National Preservation Month.
Guests will be able to enjoy a firsthand glimpse inside the Bush House during the free event, which will include a display of classic cars to help recreate historic photos taken by famed Index photographer, Lee Pickett.
Located at 308 Fifth St. in Index, the Bush House was established in 1898 by Clarence and Ellie Bush. Over the years it operated as a hotel, restaurant and gathering spot, serving as the hub of the community. Eventually the building began to fall into disrepair, until it was closed in 2001. It sat vacant for more than a decade, its condition worsening in the harsh Index winters.
Blair Corson began negotiations to purchase the property in late 2011. The sale was finalized on Jan. 1, 2012, and renovations have been ongoing ever since. Rehabilitation efforts have included a new foundation, siding, chimney, roof and windows. Earlier this year, the classic Bush House Inn wraparound porch was rebuilt, returning the outside of the inn to its former glory.
Currently, they are redoing the electrical, plus installing in-floor heating and a sprinkler system.
"We've had such an awesome crew this spring; we've been getting a lot done,GÇ¥ Kathy Corson said. "It's just so fun to see it getting back to what it's supposed to be.GÇ¥
It's been a long road, Kathy said, but they are hoping to be open by fall. The inn will offer event space with a stage, a restaurant, bakery, bar, library and community gathering areas, all sprinkled with local art, history and a reverence for Index's past and present.
Initially, the inn will offer six guest rooms.-á
"When you rent a room, you'll often get a sitting room or a side room as well, so, two rooms joined together,GÇ¥ Kathy said. "One will have a bed in it and one will have a couch and a coffee table, so there will be plenty of space.GÇ¥
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Corsons uncovered a few treasures during their renovations, hidden away in ceilings, walls and on the property. Antique bottles were discovered, a small tin, an American Legion Weekly magazine from October 1923 and a few mysterious items they aren't yet ready to reveal.
The old inn offers no shortage of historical significance and intrigue, Kathy said.-á -á
The Bush House Inn has long been reputed as haunted, most notoriously by the ghost of a woman named Annabel, who reportedly hung herself in the stairwell leading up to the third floor. According to local folklore, she had become distraught after hearing her fianc+¬ had died in a mining accident, so she decided to end her life. The act was a tragic waste, as it turned out her fianc+¬ was safe, unharmed and quite alive.
The Bush House is included on numerous "most hauntedGÇ¥ lists and has been visited by paranormal investigators.
The Corsons plan to pay homage to Annabel, and her room will be available to guests. The decor in Room 9 will be a tiny bit rustic, to keep in line with the haunted theme, Kathy said.
"People kind of expect that of this room,GÇ¥ she said. "It's been requested numerous times already.GÇ¥
Guests of Saturday's historic photo shoot event will be allowed to peek inside Annabel's room and see the very stairwell on which the unfortunate event may have occurred.-á
Much of the work done so far has been propelled along by hard-working volunteers, and the Corsons are always looking for additional help. Kathy said those who wish to be a part of breathing new life into the Bush House Inn are welcome to come and give them a hand.
"We would love to encourage the continual flow of volunteers, whether it's with a skill or just help with cleaning,GÇ¥ she said.