After the Lodge at Buckberry Creek was destroyed in Gatlinburg’s November fires, its owner Buddy McLean said they would rebuild. Six months after the fires, he and McLean and designer Jeanie Johnson are weeks away from reopening the only building left at the lodge. Finishing touches are being completed to repairs as vacationers have booked suites for “the Woods” building, which offers a picturesque view of the Smokies from the comfort of classic rocking chairs.
Other buildings that once made up the sprawling complex are a long way off from being rebuilt. However, designer Jeanie Johnson is looking forward to the day when reconstruction begins in earnest. McLean, who developed the lodge with his brother in 2005, says engineers have checked the standing walls and declared them structurally okay. The plan is to build each new building higher.
“We’re planning to keep the retaining walls just like they are. The other idea is we would probably go up a story, which would give us more suites,” said McLean.
The Lodge at Buckberry Creek once housed 100 guests in 42 rooms. Each suite had a balcony. Guests could walk from their room or meeting rooms to the lodge restaurant. Over the the last six months, the process of rebuilding first the electrical system and then other infrastructure has been painstakingly slow.
STM stayed there several times. McLean irreplaceable collection of vintage fly fishing tackle from Scotland along with numerous other valuable pieces of memorabilia were lost in the fire. It was truly a breathtaking collection we sorely miss.
“It will take us about a year and a half to rebuild, but the truth of it is the mountains weren’t ever affected,” said McLean. “It will be fun again. It can’t be anything else. I’m a half full person: that glass is always half full.”