Evaluation of Engineer's Field Report 4/24/2006

Finch Lodge from back corner

Feb, 2007 Note:  The emotional discussion that followed this bombshell report left a very big question unexamined:  "If the council decides to build a new dining hall, why place that new dining hall on the old lodge site?" See the many reasons to build closer to North Shore Road.

The National Office BSA Civil Engineer's Report

Our Corrections and Comments

National Office
April 24, 2006 1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
P.O. Box 152079, Irving, Texas 7501 5-2079

Tim McCandless, SE 972-580-2000
West 41 1 Boy Scout Way
Spokane, WA 99201-2243

Dear Tim:


This memo will report on my trip to your Council on April 19 and 20, 2006. The purpose of the trip was to scope out Finch Lodge one last time and to make a recommendation as to providing adequate Dining facilities for the proposed Cub Resident Camp.

Finch Lodge is the existing Dining Hall located on this property. It is approximately 90 years old and has a tremendous amount of sentimental attachment tied to it. The building seats about 150, is poorly insulated and does not meet all aspects of the building code. A number of recommendations have been considered by the Council from renovation to demolition and rebuild.

All factors considered, I recommend that the building be torn down, salvageable elements saved and then a new building be constructed utilizing the saved parts and designed in a manner reminiscent of Finch.

Please consider the following:

By all accounts, Mr. Stewart is an good engineer, however, It is obvious that he has little expertise in historic preservation, renovation, or rehabilitation.  He makes several statements that indicate that he is ignorant of accepted guidelines for Historical Preservation.  This  has led to grossly exaggerated price estimates and low ratings on several evaluation criteria.  He did not consider the possibility of a new addition off the back corner making all plumbing and kitchen conveniences new construction.  He neither examined nor evaluated the strong post and beam construction or the wood framing that meets or exceeds current code requirements.  We believe that these errors and his lack of knowledge and experience in preservation led to a very wrong conclusion. 

Any attempt to renovate or expand will trigger an upgrade to current building code standards. It will be difficult and very expensive to do this work while preserving the existing structure.


Seating needs to be doubled to fit into the overall master plan for the property. This will dramatically change the appearance of the building. The footprint would have to expand from 70' of frontage to approximately 140'. A new building would be able to add some depth in order to maintain proportion.

Mr. Stewart suggests that in order to obtain the necessary dining space that the front footprint of the building would need to be doubled in size.  He implies that such an extension would involve reproducing various architectural features and since this would provide a room 140 feet long by 44 wide.  It would be very energy inefficient.

This very, very expensive method to add the needed space could cost many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.  The resulting room would be hard to use.

This entire concept goes against any accepted preservation guideline.  The top authorities on historic preservation are the U.S. Department of the Interior (and their subsidiary, the National Park Service) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The National Trust is a private organization chartered by Congress to work with the Department of the Interior to develop and distribute information on historic preservation.  The state authority is the Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation.

All these authorities state that additions to historic structures should minimize the impact on the primary elevation and on any other commonly viewed elevation.  The addition should appear as a separate building and not as an extension or continuation of the historic structure.  It should be evident that the addition was not a part of the original structure.  It should “respect, but not copy the original building and be clearly subordinate to it.”    “Details should be different from, but compatible with, the historic ones.”

We have proposed an alternate plan for an addition to the historical structure that would meet the needs and goals.  It would better respect this magnificent historical structure and would be far more cost effective to build.  The costs to build would be only a small fraction of what Mr. Stewart has suggested.

The fireplace does not work and should be rebuilt to assure structural integrity and proper draft.


The kitchen layout is inefficient for the way we now cook. A remodel would be essentially a gut and replace exercise.

Mr. Stewart makes a statement about the condition of the kitchen in which he states that it would need to be gutted and rebuilt.  This would imply that he was thinking in terms of rebuilding in the same location.  Again, this would be a costly option and would leave an inefficient kitchen.

It would be a waste of money and space to consider rebuilding the kitchen in the same location while planning a large addition to the building.  It would be far more cost effective to locate the kitchen, dishwashing area, food storage and bathrooms in the new addition to the building.  The addition could be built with these uses in mind rather than retrofitting an area within the historical structure.  The former kitchen area could be better and more cost effectively utilized to fill our need for additional dining space.


The building lacks sufficient insulation and a new energy efficient heat plant is warranted for full year utilization. With the price of energy what it is, it is an unconscionable waste of money to attempt to heat the building without significant improvements. This would also require removal of wall panels and windows.

Any structure would need insulation, windows, a new energy efficient heat plant and suitable wall covering.  Fireplaces would also have to be built or rebuilt.  The costs for these items should be very nearly the same whether they are placed in our historic structure or whether they are installed in a new, but similar, structure

Your focus should be on the next 50 years. Foundations and supports that are adequate today will not last indefinitely.

Mr. Stewart  makes a statement that “foundations and supports that are adequate today will not last indefinitely.”    This is probably true, however,  he makes no mention of any specific problem or reinforcement that should be done.

Some foundation reinforcement or replacement may be necessary.  An engineer needs to perform tests and offer specific suggestions.  The building has been jacked off its foundation before and had almost half of its foundation replaced.  It would not be financially impossible to do that again if it were found necessary.  It is common to replace foundations or move structures larger than Finch for prices more in the tens of thousands than hundreds of thousands of dollars.

All things taken together, it would be best to demolish the building, saving elements that are salvageable and to rebuild with contemporary materials (steel & concrete structure) while preserving the "Finch Look architecturally.


Mr. Stewart has mentioned only the faults of the building and none of the good points.  He said nothing about its craftsman style or the gothic influenced architectural features.  He did not consider its cultural impact on the Diamond Lake area or Pend Oreille County.  He also did not say anything about its importance to the history of the council or the National BSA.

Mr. Stewart has made some wild assumptions and distorted statements about needed changes and how they should be made.  His distorted understanding of Historic Preservation has obviously led to a bad conclusion and very, very inflated cost estimates

This completes my report on Finch Lodge.

Submitted by

J. L.  Stewart, Consulting Engineer

Cc: Paul Kalvaitis, Associate Director, Properties
Timothy M. Cooper, DRDIOperations, Area 6, Western Region
C. Bradford Allen, ARDIOperation, Area 7, Western Region
Martin C. Baldwin, ADII, Western Region