Deer Lodge 1

The former Deer Lodge building is located on South Baltimore Avenue just outside Mount Holly Springs.

Terry and Kathi Rickert had big plans for the Deer Lodge in Mount Holly Springs when they first purchased the building in 2008.

Since that time, the Rickerts have revitalized the town’s paper mill as the Mt. Holly Springs Specialty Paper company, taken ownership of the Boiling Springs Tavern, and recently purchased the Holly Inn, which is expected to soon reopen with a new menu under the name Mountain Creek Tavern.

The Deer Lodge, located at 118 S. Baltimore Ave. in Mount Holly Springs, however, remains on the back burner.

There are still plans to reopen it, according to Kevin Rockwood, general manager of the Rickerts’ other two dining establishments. But those are evolving, long-term plans that depend on what happens at the Boiling Springs Tavern and Mountain Creek Tavern.

The two taverns were active restaurants when the Rickerts purchased them. By contrast, the Deer Lodge — an iconic building that was part of the resort boom in Mount Holly Springs in the early-to-mid 1900s — needed far more work to attain its owners’ vision when it was purchased in 2008.

The Rickerts’ initial plans for the Deer Lodge property were nothing if not ambitious. They included an 18,000-square-foot fine dining restaurant, bakery and conference center; a 3,500-square-foot casual restaurant; a 125-seat banquet area on top of South Mountain; and a 35-room mountaintop lodge. A tram or lift would have taken people up the side of the mountain to the lodge and banquet area.

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“The Deer Lodge at one time did have rooms. It did have banquet facilities. We’re just spreading that out,” Terry Rickert told the Mount Holly Springs Borough Council in an April 2009 meeting, according to Sentinel records. He estimated the project would be completed in four phases over nine years.

Despite some traffic and safety concerns from residents, the council unanimously approved a conditional use plan for the project at that meeting.

In 2011, though, then-mayor Robert Otto told The Sentinel the project was “on a temporary delay.” Rickert had not submitted a final land development plan at that time, according to Otto.

Now, it appears the next iteration of the Deer Lodge will have to wait a while longer.

“There’s no specific timeline as of yet for what we’re going to do there,” Rockwood said. “There are plans to reopen, there are plans to renovate, to change, but again, there’s nothing concrete.”

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Daniel Walmer covers public safety for The Sentinel. You can reach him by email at dwalmer@cumberlink.com or by phone at 717-218-0021.