ERIN TIERNEY/CHRONICLE PHOTO The Village Green’s entrance – an iconic destination for western travelers over the decades – is being sold.
COTTAGE GROVE – After two years of feeling the financial impacts of the pandemic in the tourism industry, the rustic, historic charm of the Village Green Resort on Row River Road will come to an end this month.
Built in 1960 as a luxury motor lodge, a visit to the Village Green is most always included on any listicle of “Things to do in Cottage Grove” – often touted for its 14 acres of gardens, its onsite restaurant, seasonal pool and extensive holiday light displays.
Moonstone Hotel Properties – a hotel management company that operates hotels in California and in Oregon, including the Oregon Garden Resort in Silverton – first put the Village Green on the market in the summer of 2020.
“Covid was the final straw” for the resort, said Jacob Aura, general manager, who has been employed with the resort for 15 years. The company is closing in on a deal with an interested party in Eugene by Sept. 30, though Aura would not provide further detail on the sale.
As for the future of the property, Aura said he knows of a few plans, though “nothing is set in stone yet.”
The new owner is considering tearing down the hotel buildings on the north side of the property and replacing them with apartments. It is unknown if all the hotel rooms will be torn down or if some will be preserved, Aura said.
The owner is also considering keeping the main building intact, which houses the restaurant and the lounge, as well as preserving the gardens and the RV Park portions of the property.
Cottage Grove resident Cassie Schoenleber has been employed with the resort for four years, three of which she spent as front desk manager. For her, one of the best things about working at the resort was listening to guests reminiscence about their former stays.
“I got to meet people from all over the world and hear their stories,” Schoenleber said. “I loved listening to the guests that have been staying here since it was built, or how they stayed here on their wedding night 50 or 60 years ago.”
When the Village Green first opened in 1960, the resort was abuzz with national acclaim.
W.A. Woodard, a lumber industry leader in Cottage Grove, purchased the property for the Village Green after selling his company to Weyerhaeuser In 1957. At the time, Interstate 5 was being constructed, and looking to reap the benefits of tourism and exposure from the freeway, Woodard purchased 36 acres on Row River Road with the goal of building a luxury motor lodge.
From the start, with its rustic timber-framed rooms, elegantly decorated and furnished, as well as its restaurant and recreation facilities, the Village Green became one of America’s most recognized and longest ongoing winners of the prestigious Mobile 5-Star / 5-Diamond Award.
The Woodard Family sold the property in 1986, and changed hands a couple of times before Moonstone purchased the property in 2008.
“I feel lucky that I got to be a part of the Village Green,” Schoenleber said, adding that she will miss seeing the joy on people’s faces as they walk through the Christmas Market every year.
“I wish that someone would have bought it and brought it back to its prime. This hotel has so much potential, it’s heartbreaking that it’s basically getting destroyed.”