By Sal Maccarone
During the year 1990 I was just finishing up work for the grand opening of the Marriott Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp. I had signed up for a big scope of things to do, and that made the project exciting because of the art that I was allowed to create. The owners and design team of the original Tenaya Lodge were all wonderful to work with. I learned a lot from them, and we went on to become good friends!
As a result of Tenaya Lodge project, I had the good fortune of meeting a lady named Erna who had a hotel of her own in mind to build. Here it is thirty years later, and it still seems like yesterday. Erna Kubin was assembling a team of artists, each experts in their own field, to execute her meticulous plan. She knew exactly what she wanted, and we were happy to help her get there.
For a year and a half, Erna and I worked together designing eighty pieces of furniture and some of the architectural elements for the Chateau du Sureau. Together we produced a notebook which contained the designs for the furniture, and the window & door layouts for the main building. It was an intense year and a half to say the least because all along I was building the things that we were designing. It was an exhilarating experience; I grew a lot artistically!
In the end, my shop produced eighty pieces of furniture, the great room centerpiece, twenty Honduras mahogany passageway doors & appropriate mouldings, (including the front doors), and the chapel stained glass window. Most of these pieces were designed within the French provincial style; a style that spanned about 800 years. That gave us a lot to choose from! Each piece was distressed, which was an inventive process in itself. I used to ask Erna, “how many years old do you want this to look?” And then she would approve each piece before I applied the final series of finishes. Because the provincial style spanned such a long time, I was able to use a variety of wood species throughout including: Walnut, Honduras mahogany, cherry, maple, vermilion and willow.
Through every stage of the production, from concept to the final product and then beyond, Erna did a marvelous job with her vision. I am proud to have been a part of what is already a famous historic property here in the Sierras.