“We feel that there is the ‘right’ way to renovate and then there’s the ‘Wright’ way to renovate,” said Kendra Wright of Hillsboro, who has been working with her husband, John, to restore the 120-year-old Red Rooster Hotel in downtown Hillsboro for the past three years.
The couple purchased the building in December 2017 after looking at several potential properties in the area.
“I kept telling Kendra to pick something bigger,” John said, and the couple continued to discuss that they hoped someone would fix up the Red Rooster someday.
“Neither of us has ever worked in the hospitality industry,” Kendra said.
Although John added that the couple are not new to renovation projects, fixing up a historic home in San Francisco and other homes along the way.
“We’ve never done anything this size or this scale before,” John said. “But we’ve divided the work up into manageable sections.”
After months of carrying out trash and years of demolition work, the couple have finally completed most of the infrastructure work. They tore out walls, floors and sub-floors to replace with new. In addition, they have completed HVAC work and plumbing work throughout much of the hotel area.
When finished, the Red Rooster will feature 13 hotel rooms and eight apartments, which includes six one-bedroom apartments and two two-bedroom ones.
The couple plan for the hotel side to be completed first, with only finishing work to remain in many of the rooms, like molding and trimming. They continue to work on flooring and walls in the apartments.
John said they plan to open the hotel portion at sometime in 2021, and work continues in the lobby. It will feature a breakfast nook, a reception desk, a lounge space and all new hardwood floors. The couple were hoping to salvage some of the old hardwood floors from throughout the project, but most were beyond repair. They were able to save some flooring from the dining room area, which will be used in the tap room.
Although they weren’t able to save much of the original trim and molding, the couple found someone to make the new trim exactly the same, and local artist Maggie Anderson is using paint and gold leaf to number each of the hotel rooms.
“It’s kind of our goal that when you walk in you won’t be able to tell what’s new and what’s original to the building,” John said.
Up next, the Wrights have added a variety of large equipment to what will soon become the tap room, brewing beer and distilling whiskey inside the facility.
While Kendra has always been the home brewer in the family, John said he’s been more interested in whiskey. At one point, his retirement plans included being able to distill his own whiskey, and he hopes to be brewing in the next three to four months.
“For me, it’s kind of the carrot at the end of the stick,” John said. “When we finish this project, I get to make beer and whiskey.” “I’m still holding out for tequila,” said Kendra with a smile.
She added they aren’t promising an opening date to anyone, but they do hope to open the hotel and start brewing later this year, even if the apartments aren’t yet finished.
And while the finish line may finally be in sight, the challenge of the restoration project has been one of the best parts for the couple.
“I think the building is a big challenge,” John said. “When I worked in computers, I figured things out. It’s the same thing with this building. I like the challenge of it.”
Kendra echoed his thoughts, noting that as the general contractor, John’s biggest skill set is being able to figure out how things work together.
“He figures out what he wants, and then he makes it happen,” Kendra said.
And it won’t be long until the Hillsboro community has a chance to see the fruits of their labor of love for one historic building.