Heidi Lael had been renovating historic properties for nearly two decades when she took on her most personal — and epic — project to date. A gorgeous historic Queen Anne Victorian home, built in 1891 on Parrott Creek in Roseburg, had gone back to the bank during the economic recession. Lael, who had longstanding ties to the community, could see the house’s future in her mind: a beautifully renovated destination restaurant. Now, in 2011, it was coming up for auction. Lael didn’t know if she could pull it off, but she knew that she had to try.
“I built my whole business plan around the house before I even owned it,” Lael recalled. “I still have the original drawings detailing my vision.” Lael won the bidding war, and purchased Parrott House that year. Then the real work began. “When I bought it, there were four-foot-tall weeds all around the house. The lower level windows were boarded over, after they’d been broken out by vagrants. There was no kitchen. And the whole house was gutted.”
In order to try to recoup some of their investment, the previous owners had scraped the home clean of everything, from doorknobs to light fixtures to the fireplace mantel. But the house had good bones, and the previous owners had completed dry rot removal and wiring improvements. And then there was Lael herself, who came to the project with plenty of skill and experience.
After graduating high school in Roseburg, Lael had gone on to cut her teeth on home renovation on the East Coast, in New York City and New Jersey, before following the market to Las Vegas and renovating properties there. In the early 2000s, Lael’s mother had been working in real estate in Roseburg, and told her daughter to come back home and buy and renovate properties in the Umpqua Valley. It seemed like the right move, so home Lael had come. “I bought my first house in Myrtle Creek in 2003, and had bought several more in Roseburg’s historic districts by the time of the Parrott purchase.”
Now, more than ever before, the whole community was watching. Lael began scouring secondhand stores and building supply stores for materials to renovate the Parrott House. Astonishingly, she found the home’s original fireplace mantel in Aurora at Aurora Mill, an antique store. The owner agreed to sell it back to her for the price he’d paid the home’s original owners. “I had put everything into the auction—I was totally cash poor,” Lael said. “I paid him layaway for a year.”
The renovation took years. But to gaze upon the completed product today, it’s impossible to say that all of the effort didn’t pay off. Almost all of the details of Lael’s original vision in those early drawings she still has have come to fruition. The Parrott House opened in January of 2017 as a resplendent restoration of its original glory, and a farm-to-table fine dining destination on par with any in Oregon.
The original home houses two dining rooms, decorated in eclectic elegance. The kitchen is upstairs—a compromise so that most of the home’s space could be available to guests. An interior bar is distinguished by a madrone tree that rises from the back wall, as well as more hip-meets-historic décor.
Perhaps the property’s real gem is the semi-detached pavilion out back. Massive reclaimed timbers form the structure that is otherwise entirely glass. Lael’s aesthetic is to use as much reclaimed and recycled material as possible. “The beams came from the original Rainier Brewery in Seattle,” she explained. The room is expansive and gorgeous, marked by a 110-pound crystal chandelier hanging overhead.
Through the glass, guests see a brick and stone pizza oven outdoors to one side of the pavilion. To the other side is an outdoor patio and an outbuilding, which was originally the washhouse and is now a bourbon bar. “Originally I was thinking wine, but bourbon is so big right now,” said Lael. “And the rustic shed was perfect for it.” The dark and moody interior holds 130 bourbons, as well as vintage bar mirrors and stools.
A delicious French-European menu draws on produce and products from local farms and vendors. Menu highlights include heirloom tomato carpaccio, wild mushroom risotto and pizzas from the brick oven. The site can host weddings and events, under a lovely white trellis reclaimed from nearby attraction Wildlife Safari.
The Parrott House shines again, and Lael couldn’t be more delighted with the response she’s received from the community. “People just love this old house. When they walk in and cover their mouths in surprise, that’s the reward right there.”
Moses and Tennesee Parrott built the Parrott House in 1891. Moses Parrott was one of the finest shoemakers on the West Coast. The couple raised ten children in the home, also becoming the founders of the Roseburg Academy, a private school for children. Their youngest daughter, Rosa, was a schoolteacher her entire career, and lived in the family’s home until the 1950s. There is a photo of her in the Parrott House living room near the fireplace.
This article is a feature in Cascade Living – Fall 2018
WRITTEN BY KIM COOPER FINDLING – PHOTOS BY RICK SCHAFER