To celebrate Halloween, the old Eagles Lodge at Ninth and Commercial streets will reopen tonight - dressed up as the Shipyard Bar and Grill and the Astoria Event Center.

Ghouls and goblins in downtown Astoria may not recognize the 100-year-old building in its modern decor.

Building owner Fred Van Horn of Gearhart has spent six months renovating the 9,000 square-foot space, updating the old bar and revamping the adjoining 5,000 square-foot meeting hall.

He's had the paint scraped off the windows, added new seating and sound systems, and covered the walls with emblems of Astoria's seafaring history.

The new venues will be unveiled at 8:30 tonight with an inaugural Halloween party and a performance by the Astoria band Pagan Pancakes. The business won't officially open until next week.

Van Horn has renovated several other properties on the North Coast, including his two other taverns, the Merry Time Restaurant and Lounge in Astoria and the Beach 'N Brew in Seaside.

He said he saw the Eagles building, which lies on a strip of vacant storefronts in downtown Astoria, as an opportunity to practice his design skills and breathe new life into the neglected block.

"I took this as a challenge to fix this beat-up old building and make it work and bring this end of town a little help," he said. "Staffing it and running it is one thing; rebuilding it is another chore."

The barroom now has high ceilings, three television screens and a new indoor balcony beside a bank of windows overlooking Commercial Street. A shipyard-themed mural, painted by Astoria artist Josh Brown, depicts men at work felling timber and building boats.

The event center, which already featured several rows of stadium seating and a stage, is now fitted with a modern sound system and a new video screen, as well as a bar of its own.

Historic Astoria artifacts are included in both venues - century-old buoys, kegs, ropes and giant wood planks - drawing on the building's long history. Many of the materials Van Horn used in the redesign were recycled from local docks and storage sheds.

"It's not a theme park. It's real," he said. "It's part of what was here."

The event center is already booked for New Year's eve and Fat Tuesday. It's being eyed as a place to hold reunions, conferences, wedding receptions and company parties, as well as a new place to host concerts. It's big enough to seat about 300 people.

Van Horn is a drummer in the local band Fat Brando, and looks forward to booking regional talent on the remodeled stage.

At music concerts he attends in Portland, Van Horn said he looks to learn from other musicians and improve his own music, but now he'll also be scouting bands he'd like to see on his stage.


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