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An empress reigns again Woodland estate opens for weddings

first_imgStevie Saleem, owner of Empress Estate, looks down from the second floor into the Woodland home’s entryway while giving a tour Jan. 11. She and her husband, Zoe, plan to rent out the property for weddings and other special events, and eventually have it be a bed-and-breakfast. Empress Estate, 460 Empress Lane in Woodland, is hosting an open house celebration from 1 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19. A drawing will take place that day for a free wedding package. For more information, visit www.theempressestate.com.The mansion on the hill had seen grander days.A thick winter fog clouded Stevie Saleem’s first approach to 460 Empress Lane in Woodland. Walking past a spiky iron fence, under the gaze of two concrete gargoyles, she felt a bit spooked.At that point in January 2012, the 17,000-square-foot chateau-like home had been vacant for three years. The once-manicured lawn had gone sour, vandals had made their destructive marks, a mattress-sized hole in the ceiling caused water to pool in the living room.Life had left Empress Estate.“It looked like a haunted house almost,” Stevie said. “It was pretty eerie.”The foreclosed property, known for hosting lavish weddings, had fallen — as so many have since the Great Recession — into disrepair.But beneath the tarnished surface, Stevie and husband Zoe saw glimmers of opportunity. Stevie strives to be a consummate host, and Zoe is a sucker for a stellar view. Both 50-year-olds envisioned a future after retirement where they would run a bed-and-breakfast.The Empress fit their dreams.Open for businessSnatching up the bank-owned property last March for a steal at $231,000, the Portland couple jumped right into resuscitating the eight-bedroom, three-story home.last_img read more