SOLON — An Embden couple is working to restore the landmark Solon Hotel with an eye toward reopening next year.

Faith and Bruce Goguen purchased the building in September and got to work on demolition and restoration. They plan to have the bar open by February for drinks and light snacks.

The couple hopes to finish reviving the 125-year-old hotel by the end of next year. It will feature a full-service restaurant, a function hall, a kitchen, rooms to rent and a fourth-floor family or group suite.

“We’re redoing everything completely, floor to ceiling,” Faith Goguen said.

Working in stages, they intend to complete and open the restaurant and first-floor dining room in the spring. The hotel will serve Italian and Portuguese cuisine, prepared by Goguen, who will draw on years of culinary-school and restaurant experience, as well as on recipes she learned from her grandmother Antoinette.



“There’s nothing like this up here,” she said. “There’s just nothing up this way at all, and this area really needs a place where you can come.”

The demolition phase of the project has uncovered archways and other details that had been hidden under paneling. The couple says they will hold on to some of the building’s history.

“We don’t want to rebuild it all new — we want to restore whatever’s left,” Goguen said.

Bruce Goguen grabs metal roofing before installing the section with his son Maxwell at the historic 1895 Solon Hotel recently. Goguen and his family are restoring the building. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

She and her husband own rental properties in the area as well as Wicked Lettuce, a smoke shop and dispensary in Madison. The renovation is a family project that involves the help of their children — Olivia, Maxwell and Brady — and friends.

The hotel has operated under several names since it was built in 1895. The four-story building sits on the same foundation as the Caratunk House that burned down in 1893.

A Morning Sentinel article from 1952 that was based on information provided by the Solon Historical Society said the Caratunk House contained 30 rooms. Considered an “unusual set of buildings” in the 1870s, the structure was home to the first telephone in the area in 1890.


A new property was opened in 1895 as Gray’s Tavern, built by Joel Herbert “Bert” Gray, who had operated the Caratunk House from 1877 until it burned down. Gray died in 1925.

Ownership has since changed a number of times. The building has operated as a hotel, as apartment housing with first-floor businesses, and then again as a hotel. Before the recent sale, the bar was the only operating space.

The Goguens hope to take advantage of the hotel’s location and make it a regional destination. The property sits alongside Route 201, which travelers use to reach recreation areas in Bingham, The Forks, Moosehead Lake and Sugarloaf.

“We want this to be a hub that connects all of the area towns, a place you can come and get breakfast and stay and enjoy all of the things that we’re going to do,” Goguen said.

Some of those things include trivia nights, bingo, raffles, teen nights and parties for sporting events like the Super Bowl.

The Goguens have been publishing renovation updates on the hotel’s Facebook page and have had numerous people drop in to see what’s going on.

“I can’t believe the amount of people who are so interested in and invested in what’s going on here,” Goguen said. “I had no idea it had such a following.”

The historic Solon Hotel, right, is shown in downtown Solon recently. The Goguen family is restoring the building. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

She said that several years ago when they purchased the Madison commercial property that is now Wicked Lettuce, that building was also in disrepair. After the Goguens’ renovation, the new storefront was clean and attractive. In response, “other businesses down the street started repairing their buildings,” Goguen said

“We hope that (this project) is going to bring that energy to Solon,” she added. “It’s a domino effect and it helps everybody.”

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