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Bonelli House showcases lifestyle from past century

Located in historic downtown Kingman, the Bonelli House has been preserved as an example of the lifestyle of a prominent family in the turn-of-the century Arizona.

"It is a treasure," said Mohave Museum of History and Arts director Shannon Rossiter.

"It is one of the few historic buildings in the city that has been preserved as it once was."

Owned by the city of Kingman, and cared for by volunteers from the museum, the Bonelli house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Once owned by the prominent Bonelli family, a contractor named Pendergrast built the house in 1915.

It was the second family home on the same site, constructed after the original frame house, dating from 1894, burned.

The Bonelli family that settled in Utah and Arizona are descendants of the Weingarten family in Switzerland.

The name was originally Bommeli, but was changed in Mormon records after Han George Bommeli became a member of that faith, according to information from the museum.

In 1858, George and his second wife and two daughters immigrated to Southern Nevada.

Three years later, his son, Johann Daniel followed.

During the ship voyage Daniel met his future wife, Ann, and they married in Utah in 1861, according to the information.

That same year, Brigham Young sent Daniel and a group of Swiss immigrants to colonize the Santa Clara Valley area.

He and his family eventually settled at the junction of the Virgin and Colorado rivers in Rioville, Nev.

He became a successful businessman – operating ranches, a salt mine and a ferry across the Colorado River.

While living in Nevada, seven children were born to Daniel and Ann including their son George, who was born in 1869.

While still a young man George settled in Kingman, married Effie Ellen Tarr, and their union produced nine children.

He became a success in business, parlaying a gift from his father of Quail Springs Ranch, into holdings in a general store, a jewelry and engraving business, and a meat market in Chloride.

Members of the family used the house continuously until it was purchased by the city of Kingman in 1973.

At that time Joseph Bonelli, son of George, moved to another house in Kingman, where he lived until his death.

Characteristic of the Anglo-Territorial architecture, which was popular in Arizona at the time, the house was constructed of locally quarried tufa stone.

Fire resistant plaster was used for the walls, making the building virtually fireproof.

The thickness of the walls provided insulation against the high-desert winter cold and summer heat.

A National Historic Preservation Grant made Restoration of the house by the Kingman Arts and Humanities Council possible with assistance from the Daughters of the Mohave County Pioneers.

The furnishings in the house are a combination of original possessions of the Bonelli family and period clothing and pieces similar to the ones used in the home.

Located at 430 Spring Street, the Bonelli House is open Thursday through Monday 1 to 4 p.m.

"We encourage the public to visit the Bonelli House," Rossiter said.

"And we encourage local civic groups to use the house for meetings."

For more information contact the museum at 753-3195.