NELSONVILLE, Ohio — When guests check-in at the newly renovated Lodge at Hocking College, they’ll be surrounded by the natural beauty of the technical community college’s Hocking Hills campus.
That beautiful campus extends into the rooms thanks to students in the college’s Timber Harvesting and Tree Care classes and an entrepreneurial alumnus.
Each room features a rustic bed, vanity countertops, desks and nightstands made from sustainably harvested oak and aspen trees on Hocking College’s Nelsonville campus.
Timber Harvesting and Tree Care students, with their instructors, selected the trees and felled them for the project.
Finding the timber to outfit 43 hotel rooms was “out of the norm” for students, Dr. Daniel Kelley, dean of Hocking College’s School of Natural Resources, said.
“The classes started identifying the tree stands in spring semester 2019,” Kelley said. “Harvesting trees for a project this large isn’t a regular part of the class.”
After the students milled the timber, Hocking College alumnus Dale Bockrath began crafting the wood.
With finishes that enhance the natural beauty of the wood and natural edges, the furniture lends itself to the wooded landscape of the Hocking Hills.
“This is the style of work I usually do, just not to this volume,” Bockrath said. “I’m a little one-man custom shop.”
Bockrath got help on the project from the Hocking Makers Network Wood Lab and Chris Hedges, who manages the wood lab and is the college’s Cabinetmaking and Architectural Millwork program manager.
Hedges and Bockrath planned the wood down to usable lumber, which Bockrath took back to his shop to build into furniture.
“I bring it back for finishing,” he said. “I don’t have enough space at my place to do all this.”
The finished pieces create a warm and inviting feeling in the rooms, creating a relaxing space for visitors to Hocking College, Nelsonville, Athens or the Hocking Hills.
“I’m excited to see these done and in the rooms,” Bockrath said. “I’m always excited to see the finished product.”
Guests won’t just experience the work of Hocking College students through the furniture in their rooms. The Lodge — which is tentatively scheduled to open sometime in January 2021 — will also serve as a live learning lab for students in the college’s Hospitality & Events Management program.
The hotel bar will be stocked with beer, spirits and eventually wine made by the Fermentation Science students.
They’ll be able to see some of the vineyards — tended to by Agroecology students — where the wine originated.
Guests will find not just a relaxing stay at The Lodge at Hocking College, but a visit catered to by the industry professionals of tomorrow.