'Peek into the past' at the Bonelli House

The upstairs bedroom of one of George Bonelli’s daughters is large and includes two doors to the porches that surround the house on three sides. The Bonelli children would often sleep on the porches to keep cool on summer nights.
ANDRAYA WHITNEY/Miner

The upstairs bedroom of one of George Bonelli’s daughters is large and includes two doors to the porches that surround the house on three sides. The Bonelli children would often sleep on the porches to keep cool on summer nights. ANDRAYA WHITNEY/Miner

History buffs, longtime Kingman residents and newcomers to the city can all find something interesting in the Bonelli House, located downtown.

The house was built in 1915 after the original frame house burned down. Today, it exists in virtually the same condition as when George and Effie Bonelli lived in it, albeit with the addition of some modern conveniences such as heating and cooling. Because the Bonellis first home was lost to a fire, the contractor built the new one with tufa stone and thick, fire resistant plaster to protect against future fire dangers - which also helped to shield the home from extreme heat and cold.

Every room was equipped with an exit to the outdoors due to fire safety concerns for the Bonellis' nine children.

The city of Kingman bought the house in 1973 from Joseph Bonelli, one of George's sons. Joseph was still cooking on the coal-fired stove in the kitchen when he turned the home over to the city. That stove remains in place, along with several other heating stoves in the bedrooms and living areas.

With the help of a National Historic Preservation Grant and the Daughters of the Mohave County Pioneers, the home was restored for use as a historical museum.

Although largely furnished with original belongings of the Bonelli family, some period pieces are also used to fill out the décor, chosen to represent original pieces that were present in the home. Private individuals donated some of the display items, and others were purchased at local antique shops.

"When people come through, they find things that they can relate to, one way or another, and it just really is a great interest to them," said Cathy Kreis, a volunteer with the Mohave County Historical Society.

The historical society curates the museum, which opened to the public in 1978 and is listed on the National Register of Historic places. The city owns and maintains the home.

Kreis said the house is "absolutely a beauty, and it gives a real sense of what life was like. People need to adopt it and just take care of it." She said the historical society would appreciate volunteers in the community willing to take four-hour shifts, especially on Saturdays.

The museum is currently open only during the week.

One volunteer at the house agreed to restore two clocks that belonged to the Bonelli family - a burned parlor clock and a large hanging calendar clock. Willis Lynes, owner of The Clock Man, located at 226 E. Beale St., and assistant Scott Johnson are performing the work free of charge, and the restoration is moving along quickly.

The men received the 1874 Kroever parlor clock in six pieces, which they have reassembled. They still must reinstall the works and other parts inside the clock. The curators asked that the piece be left in its burnt condition to retain its historical flavor.

The 1885 Ingraham calendar clock also needs some more work, including a new dial that will be hand-painted to replicate the original face.

"I'm just so excited to be able to share that with people in its working condition," Kreis said.

The Bonelli House requires another act of kindness as well. The dining room of the home once featured a framed etching, which has been badly damaged. Curators wish to find a professional who can reassemble the broken frame and preserve the artwork in new glass so the piece may be rehung in its original location.

The public may visit the Bonelli House, located at 403 E. Spring St., Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers and others seeking more information may contact the Mohave County Historical Society at 753-3195.