Jared immediately went to work for us, asking us to send any potential hits to him, and said he had a few ideas we might like too. Jared is kind of the tech guy at Gate City Realty, and he takes a lot of the other listing agents photos, so we figured if he knew of any gems that we'd have the inside track.
We weren't wrong! just a few days after returning home from Pendleton, Jared called and said he was lining up a few houses to look at, and that there was another place he wanted us to see that was no longer technically on the market, but one he thought we'd love.
The building was called The Greystone Manor, in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. Jared told us that it had been used as a wedding and reception facility, and that the owners rented themed rooms from there as well. Frankly, it kind of sounded like a baby version of what we eventually wanted to open, so we excitedly found out where it was, and on a morning off, loaded up the dogs and drove the 35 miles to Lava to check out the exterior and get the lay of the land a bit. Lava Hot Springs is a small town of around 500 to the Southwest of Pocatello, and as the name suggests, is home to a pretty impressive Hot Springs system. They have an Olympic sized pool, some really nice hot pools, and a number of impressively good restaurants, including a Thai one that is supposed to be one of the best in the area. (Currently housed in an old gas station!) It had been a while since Lindsay and I had been to Lava, and then only at night, so it was kind of fun to cruise around the town a bit, looking at all of the tourist themed shops and restaurants. For a town of only 500, Lava has a pretty decent amount of commerce and is obviously pretty reliant on the steaming hot water coming from the earth. There are a number of hotels in the town, most seemingly owned by the same company, just spread out around town with different names. There's also a "luxury" Themed Hotel called the Lion's Gate Manor, which we wanted to cruise past and look at, as they were one of the businesses we tracked for a while.
It took us a few attempts, but we finally tracked down the Greystone Manor, about a block and a half up from the main road. It was a gorgeous old grey building, roughly 1.5 stories high, that took up the corner of the block.
I fell in love with the stonework almost immediately. The Greystone was a very imposing building, especially in comparison to the residences around it. You could feel the age and history flowing from the cool stones as we walked around the exterior, trying to see if it was occupied, or not.
Soon, we decided that it was vacant, and though it showed signs of recent life, it was pretty clearly in a state of disrepair. A lot of the mortar between stones were crumbling, the area was very overgrown, and there were a few hornets nests hanging from the eaves. We got brave and tried to peek in a few windows, but for the most part could only see a staircase and an entry alcove, but what we saw made us want to see the inside. Badly.
There was also a yard across from the alley, that appeared to belong to the Greystone - either that or some enterprising waterer had usurped their hose to keep it green, which would be great to eventually build an area for outdoor weddings, or a secondary building for room rentals. Obviously, this was some pretty far flung thinking, but it was nice to see that it had some land attached.
Sadly, there was a lot of crumbling, dejected things around the manor, from dead plants to the old sign, a few desiccated strands of lights still hanging from it, as it leaned against the gorgeous old walls. We immediately called Jared and told him we wanted to see inside later in the week.
After wandering around long enough to get a feel for the place, but not long enough that someone reported us as trespassers, we headed into town and hit up the museum there. Their museum is a quaint, typical small town type, where a lot of emphasis was placed on small town individuals and events that scarcely figured outside of the area, but they managed to put it together in a clean and fun manner, and we spent a few minutes browsing around. We asked the proprietor if she knew anything about the Greystone Manor, and she said that she thought they did weddings there every once in a while, but that it was essentially vacant.
As we browsed the museum, we stumbled across a written history of the LDS church in Lava Hot Springs, where we found a short but informative page on the construction and early history of the Greystone. Amazingly, when it was built it took over 18 years, during which time, classes were held in the unfinished basement. It was only recently (In historical terms, which meant around 45 years ago) that the church was sold and became a hotel/wedding facility/wasp breeding ground.
After we left the museum, we travelled in a large and essentially fruitless search to find the graveyard, one of our little passions, but while we looked for it we did find the Lion's Gate. Surprisingly, it was a very modern looking house on a hill, and from the outside at least, utterly charmless. While we'd seen pictures of the interior, if we'd rented a room here, we would have been pretty dismayed to see the plain exterior and untrimmed lawn.
As we headed back to Poky, we passed the world's slowest granny, who had a line of 15 cars piled up behind her, and pottied the dogs at the Flying J, where we discovered that the only place they had that wasn't decorative and useless Lava rock was their pretty little grass patch in the very front of the store. As a result, the lawn was absolutely covered in dog poop. (Though none of it our dogs, we clean up after ours! ) You should really consider a doggy rest area, Flying J!