Daniel and Lori Bonham, owners of Maupin’s Stoves-N-Spahs, are making an investment in downtown The Dalles and maintaining a family tradition in the process.
The couple closed last week on purchase of the former Turner Furniture building and have been busy clearing away the interior structures to make way for a big, open showroom.
Ellen Turner, the building’s former owner, is Lori Bonham’s great aunt.
“When Ellen decided she was going to retire, her son Terry came and asked if we wanted to buy it,” said Daniel. “We thought we could make it work and it was a no-brainer. It’s the difference between leasing and buying. And Ellen is tickled that it is going to stay in the family.”
The Bonhams plan to be moved into the building by Oct. 1. New paint and signage will be going up in the next two weeks.
Renovation work has involved tearing out the former furniture store’s old mezzanine level and tearing down three layers of walls to expose the historic building’s original brick.
“All we’re doing is we’re going to take the building to as wide open as possible,” Daniel said.
The building has an interesting pedigree. It was built sometime in the 1870s and operated as the Skibbee Hotel and Restaurant.
“We’re told it was also the last known operating brothel in The Dalles, operating since 1962,” Lori said. The rooms upstairs are in original, though deteriorated condition, and the Bonhams eventually plan to renovate the space.
The Bonhams will be making do with a little less warehouse space than they have in their current leased space, which is owned by Sam Woolsey and leased through the former business owners. They purchased the business from the Maupins in 2007.
The relationship has been a positive one, Daniel said. In fact, Toni Maupin still works for the company.
“She’s been a fantastic resource for us,” he said. “She’s got a great temperament and as a landlord she’s reasonable and fair.”
The Bonhams are looking forward to renovating their new property in stages.
“We’re trying to be very pragmatic with what we decide in terms of what we change and what can stay the same as long as possible and become part of phase two,” Daniel said.
The Bonhams have received family help through the process. Their fathers are both volunteering their time and skills.
“And our kids, our kids’ friends,” Daniel said. “At the end of the day, this will be a community project.”
“The kids loved the demolition,” Lori added.
With an old building, there’s plenty to do, but the Bonhams plan to add life and longevity to the historic structure.
“By the time we’re done we hope to increase the useful life by hundreds of years more,” Daniel said.
The vacant lot next door is also part of the property and the Bonhams expect to eventually see a building there.
They also want to bring the public in to see the existing building.
“We want to have a celebration,” Daniel said. “It’s an opportunity to get the community into the building. It’s a neat building and we want people to be able to see it without trying to sell them something so they can enjoy it for exactly what it is.”
People have been walking by wanting to look around inside, he said, but the building is an active construction site so the Bonhams are discouraging that for safety reasons. A date hasn’t yet been set for the celebration, but they want it to be soon after the opening.
“We really want people to have a chance to come see the building and enjoy the fact that there is still business downtown.”