North River The sole offer on Garnet Hill Lodge, a $1.2 million bid, was closed Dec. 9, with new owner Don Preuninger and his companion, 20-year Minerva resident Mindy Piper, taking over the historic facility.
Preuninger is documenting their move to ownership at “Garnet Hill Lodge (The Saga),” where he posted a to-do list and photos of cleaning and painting for the ski season.
Piper said staying connected to the community is a big priority for her. Her two decades in the Central Adirondacks just barely makes her eligible to be called a local, she said.
She’s cross-country-skied at Garnet Hill since her first year up here, and said keeping the Lodge publicly accessible is the right thing to do.
The people of Johnsburg have family ties to the property. Piper’s got a friend whose mother went to the schoolhouse on the property when the old-timer’s father worked the mines. That kind of personal history makes the Lodge a local symbol.
“It gets in your soul,” Piper said.
The venture is Preuninger’s. He went to SUNY Fredonia, where he studied classical piano and composition. That didn't turn into his life's pursuit, though. He spent 18 years owning part of a company that made software development tools.
He sold his interest and moved to Johnsburg, where his father purchased 200 acres in 1969. Preuninger now owns the property and has lived there semi-retired for the past three years.
He’s looked around the last two years or so for something to keep him occupied and kept up with the sale of the Lodge out of curiosity.
“I didn’t really think that the price would be in my range,” said Preuninger.
It turned out that he could afford it, and after some haggling, Preuninger was ready to sign the papers.
Preuninger said the restaurant and lodge should be ready for Christmas, and if the weather cooperates, the trails should be ready to go, too.
There's still some maintenance and upgrades that he'd like to make, but overall he plans to run the Lodge as it always has been.
Part of preserving the spirit of the Lodge, old faces will still be around. Pat Connor has moved from sales director to lodge manager, Mary Jane Freebern will be back to sell her pies, cookies and breads and Debra Eves will continue with front desk and reservation duties.
For lodge information, visit www.garnet-hill.com or call 518-251-2444.