Controversy Over Residency at Reindeer Lodge on Mt. Rose Highway - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Controversy Over Residency at Reindeer Lodge on Mt. Rose Highway

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The Reindeer Lodge on Mt. Rose Highway used to be an Army barracks.

"The main part of the lodge was constructed by putting the barracks together," said Gary Schmidt, who has owned the property for the last 46 years. "They were butted up against each other corner to corner which created a 40-ft -square blank area in the middle and that's where the dance floor and stage was because it had a higher ceiling."

Over the years, that stage saw its fair share of stars.

"There were lots of bands," Schmidt said. "Eric Burdon and the Animals, outstanding performers, they played here three times; Jerry Garcia would sneak in and play with Moby Grape or Hot Tuna."

The past few years, the lodge has only been open for special events. It was empty when the roof collapsed in March 2017 during a record snow year. Schmidt was out of town at the time. He came back to the main building in ruins.

"I've never seen anything like it; it looked like a war zone, like it had been hit by a large mortar shell," Schmidt said. "It was just a big hole and I knew what had happened - I knew those beams that go across the dance floor had snapped."

There wasn't much that could be done until late summer when the ground thawed. The building housed lots of antiques and memorabilia.

"In July, August and September we focused on getting undamaged things out of the building," Schmidt said. "We addressed safety fencing, we had to do that as the snow melted."

It was a very short building season. Repairs are in the works, but it's slow going and the property is still without power.

"When the roof collapsed it felled a lot of electrical lines, some sub panels in the lodge," Schmidt said. "So until I can get the roof off - which is going to take a little while, we have to wait till the ground dries a little more - we hope to do it this Summer.

There's only one breaker box for the entire property, including the living quarters behind the lodge that Schmidt used as his residence, so currently, he's not living there. Now, a court has ruled that since he didn't live here for the 30 days before filing as a candidate for State Senator - and because more progress hasn't been made on the property - he's not eligible to serve.

"The court didn't seem to understand what 7,200 feet of elevation is and what that winter was," Schmidt said.

He hopes to have power back by the end of the summer.

"And I intend to resume residency here until the lodge sells, which I anticipate in the next three to five years," he said. "The memories are still there. It can be rebuilt. It can live on. It's time to turn that over to somebody else.

In the meantime, he's appealed the decision to the State Supreme Court. That ruling should come in the next two weeks.

"I'm cautiously optimistic they'll rule appropriately and validate my candidacy," Schmidt said. "And then the voters, the people, can decide."

As for the lodge, Schmidt says he'll preserve as much as he can before he sells it.

"It's my home and I want it to remain my home until the last day when I pass the keys to someone else," he said. "I want to prep the building, leave the fireplace and some of the foundation and stay in the residence until the property sells; do some renovation to the motel part and let new owner decide what to do with it."

And he'll choose that new owner carefully.

"I'm going to be really careful who I sell it to," he said. "The way it's zoned, you can build 68 units on this property - that means condominiums - and I don't want to see that happen. I'd rather see some sort of revival of the spirit of the Reindeer Lodge. I'm attempting to market it as a microbrewery; I want to see deer beer."

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