Ogle Haus Inn
to once again serve residents, tourists
The late Paul Ogle left legacy on county
(February 2002) VEVAY, Ind. When Belterra Casino Resort
employees began moving to town in February 2000, its then-parent company,
Hollywood Park, needed a place for them to live. It turned to the largest
housing facility in the area the Ogle Haus Inn.
The Glendale, Calif.-based company bought the 54-room hotel, closed
it to the public and converted it into makeshift offices and living
quarters for transitioning employees. Now two years later, with its
casino workforce stabilizing, the company, now known as Pinnacle Entertainment
Corp., plans to re-open the hotel, restaurant and bar sometime in late
February or March.
That is welcome news to community residents who cherish
the history of the late Paul Ogles signature hotel that sits majestically
on the Ohio River and whose design pays tribute to the countys
Swiss heritage. Its also good news to tourism officials, who once
depended on the Ogle Haus as their primary source for for bed tax money.
Its great that theyre re-opening the Ogle Haus because
we need it for tourism, said Ann Mulligan, director of the countys
Eventually, the company agreed to provide money to help tourism during
the shutdown. But the public was unable to use the 16-year-old facility.
Now the doors are opening once again. Pat Healy of nearby Warsaw, Ky.,
will lease and operate the restaurant and bar, while Belterra Casino
employees will operate the hotel, according to newly hired Belterra
Casino General Manager Alain Uboldi.
The Ogle Haus has served as the pre-opening command post for Belterra,
but now with Belterra up and running, were pleased to be renovating
and re-opening it to the public, said Uboldi, 55, who took over
in December. Were well aware of how important the Ogle Haus
is to the community, and we respect that fact.
Healy, 50, has more than 20 years of food and beverage experience in
the hotel industry. Her husband, Dennis Healy, formerly headed Belterras
hotel operations when the casino opened in October 2000.
Four months ago, Pat Healy approached Belterra officials about re-opening
the Ogle Haus. She signed a lease agreement on Jan. 15. Everything
about this place gives me goose bumps, Healy said. I think
all the training Ive had geared me toward this.
Belterra officials plan to continue using the Ogle Haus to house bus
tours and has no current plans to sell the property, Uboldi said.
Healy is moving quickly in her efforts to open. In January, she was
working on obtaining a liquor license in hopes of opening the bar first
sometime in February. But Uboldi said it more likely that the bar, restaurant
and hotel will open at the same time, probably in March.
Healy said the restaurant and bar should provide up to 30 jobs. Her
plans for the bar include a pool table, lounge sofas, cocktail tables
and a big-screen television with live and videotaped sports coverage.
She is using community input to design a menu for the restaurant.
People in the community have good memories of this place,
she said. So its not up to me. I need to find out what they
want. I want local people to be able to come here to relax and have
a good time.
Healys vision resembles what the Ogle Haus has meant to Vevay.
It was the brainchild of the late Paul Ogle, a Vevay native who became
a prosperous businessman and generous philanthropist. His inception
of the hotel arose after his longtime contributions and improvements
to the county.
He started out in Vevay and wanted to do something for the people
and the businesses, said Larry Jones, 64, who worked as the maintenance
supervisor at the Ogle Haus from the day it opened to its public closing.
The Ogle Haus promoted employment and gave us a nice place to
enjoy a meal. Local organizations had their functions there, and there
were weddings, parties and business meetings. I would say a lot of people
really appreciated what he did for the community.
The Ogle Haus broke ground on Aug. 27, 1985, with a dedication ceremony
that included such guests as Lt. Gov. John Mutz, State Sen. Johnny Nugent
and those representing U.S. Sens. Richard Lugar and Dan Quayle. The
hotel opened the following spring on April 15.
Initially, the $3.5 million inn only had 26 rooms. All rooms were elaborately
decorated in oranges, blues and rusts. Four of the 26 rooms were classified
as King Suites with whirlpool baths and fireplaces. A 106-seat restaurant
and piano bar aligned the southern side of the building, with panoramic
window views of the Ohio River. Ogle owned the hotel and the property,
but Charlie DeCalanne managed the hotel for the first two years.
On July 20, 1987, Ogle broke ground on an addition of 28 more rooms,
for todays total of 54.
As the Ogle Haus grew, so did its impact on the community, especially
in tourism. Now visitors had a place to spend the night in Vevay.
By him building the hotel, it finally put us in the position to
take tourists in overnight year-round, not just for special events,
said Mike Danner, who owns Danners Hardware and Home Furnishings
and has been involved with organizations such as the Kiwanis that used
the facility for meetings.
Marcel Hankins, owns Marcels Carousel, a hair salon, and the Next
Door Gift Shop, which are both located just to the east of the Ogle
Haus Inn. Hankins remembers the flow of business she received from the
I had regular customers from out of town, she said. They
would stop in the gift shop and become personal friends. It would help
the gift shop tremendously. I used to be open seven days a week.
Since the hotels closing to the public, Hankins has has had to
cut back her gift shop hours. She hopes the re-opening of the Ogle Haus
allow her to return to her old hours.
I think it is going to be full, Hankins said of the hotels
re-opening. Everyone wants the Ogle Haus open. It is the best
thing that has happened to this town.
In addition to helping tourism, the Ogle Haus also was a memorable place
for many of its employees.
I enjoyed our guests, recalled Jones. We got on a
first-name basis with some of them. I remember we had one man from Ohio
who spent 42 days here one year not all at once, of course.
The Ogle Haus also created many memories for Vevay residents. Vevay
Realtor Teresa Bovard married Jefferson County Commissioner Steve Lyons
at the Ogle Haus on Sept. 4, 1998. Their wedding was attended by more
than 300 people and used a great portion of the facility. Bovard-Lyons
also had class reunions and business functions at the facility.
It has character, and you cant find that in a lot of hotels,
Area corporations outside Vevay also took advantage of the facility
and its services. Linda McCarty, Benefits Administrator for ATOFINA
Industries in Carrollton, Ky., planned many of the company functions
at the Ogle Haus.
The food was always great, and so was the service and organization
of events, said McCarty. I would think we would use their
facilities again. We were pleased when we did.
The Ogle Haus and its impacts survived Ogle, who died from a heart attack
in 1989. After his death, the hotel went through two other owners before
its purchase by Hollywood Park.
The Vevay-Switzerland County Foundation, an organization founded by
Ogle, took over the ownership after his death.
In 1996, the foundation took minority ownership and sold 80 percent
to Inn Development, Inc. of Aurora, Ohio. Madison, Ind., attorney John
Eckert was among the partners. He eventually bought out their shares
and took on full ownership of the majority interest under Amethyst Properties,
It was a pleasure for me to keep the Ogle Haus going. It is a
unique facility that adds a fabric to the life in Switzerland County.
I think everyone was very proud of the facility. All the employees made
their best efforts to make sure things went well.
Selling it to Hollywood Park was not an easy decision, Eckert said.
At the time, it was clearly their intention to eventually re-open
it, and that was something I wanted to see.
Danner said he and other business owners hope the opening of the Ogle
Haus will spur more activity downtown.
A lot of the people coming to Belterra are going up to eat and
spend the night there. They are not really coming to Vevay. Now well
have a lot more tourists coming to Vevay, and they may wander around
Editor Don Ward contributed to this report.
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