CONWAY — Demolition of the old Cranmore Base Lodge began Monday with the partial razing of the building that once housed administration offices upstairs and the Sport Thoma ski shop on the ground floor.
The old base lodge is being razed to make way for Cranmore’s new Fairbank Lodge, with a groundbreaking held March 16.
Cranmore has temporarily moved its administrative offices to the Stan & Dan Sports plaza in North Conway.
Demolition will move from north to south, with Dan Kidder of Kidder Building & Wrecking Inc. of Plaistow saying they’ll take the building down in sections to allow for cleanup of debris as they go.
The new lodge is named for Cranmore owners Brian and son Tyler Fairbank, who with Joe O’Donnell purchased the resort in 2010. It will include 30,000 square feet of facility space, as well as 15 residential condominiums.
Since purchasing Cranmore, the Fairbank Group has invested $25 million into the 1937-founded resort, including on infrastructure, lifts, snowmaking, a tubing park, mountain adventure park with year-round attractions and new Artists Falls Lodge amenities building.
Atlantic Construction Group of Groton, Mass., the contractor that completed Building 2 of Kearsarge Brook Condominiums at Cranmore and most recently the new Artist Falls Lodge, is general contractor for the new project.
Cranmore President and General Manager Wilcox told the Sun that all 15 of the condominiums to be built for the new Fairbank Lodge have already sold.
According to Wilcox, the new lodge will include a food pavilion, slope-side bar, lockers, restrooms, cafe and ski accessories shop. Cranmore’s long history will be incorporated into the interior design, in the form of large wall murals.
The first floor of the lodge is projected to be operational by next ski season. The entire Fairbank Lodge is expected to be completed before the 2023-24 winter season.
It is part of a $60 million expansion plan that includes not only the Condominiums at Kearsarge Brook and Artist Falls ticketing and amenities building but also an 88-room Fairfield Inn & Suites now under construction.
Cranmore is also giving its 1995-installed Skimobile Express detachable quad lift a $1 million renovation.
Upgrades will increase the lift’s uphill capacity by 20 percent. The project is set to be completed by early summer.
The old lodge underwent several design changes in 1986 under the ownership of Ed Mank, who purchased Cranmore in 1984 from Herbert Schneider and partners. Schneider (1920-2012) had bought Cranmore from Helen Gibson, widow of original owner Harvey Dow Gibson (1882-1950).
Mank’s renovations included a lounge area on the top floor along with a new roofline.
It may come as a surprise for many longtime Cranmore devotees to learn that hidden under a roof of a connected section of the old base lodge is an old log cabin dating from Cranmore’s beginnings as a resort.
During a visit by U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) last month, Wilcox showed it to Pappas and Jessyca Keeler of Ski NH. In recent years, it was used as a snack bar.
That log cabin served as the base station of the Lower Skimobile that opened in December 1938, with the Upper Skimobile built in 1939 after Austrian skimeister Hannes Schneider arrived.
In future years, expansion plans call for the replacement of Zip’s Pub, which according to local lore was built by former Cranmore mountain manager Phil Robertson using timbers from a dismantled barn that once stood on the West Side of North Conway.
Fairbank has said he hopes to incorporate those timbers in new structures at the resort.