Paul and Terry Bentley are bringing their 17-year-old dream to reality with the Bell Sister Flats, celebrating the grand opening of the inn from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at 615 SE Jackson Street.
Paul Bentley bought the office space for his architecture firm in 2000, but when he went upstairs, he saw something special.
“As soon as I went up there I thought, ‘Oh man, this is really something neat,’” Paul Bentley said.
Before the Bentleys bought the space, the rooms had been unoccupied since the 1950s. Despite the leaking roof and signs of rot, Paul Bentley saw potential in the remnants of a bygone era: A kitchen with a vintage sink and faucet, glass-paneled cabinets, hallways with lath-and-plaster walls and ceilings, and an old electrical panel bearing the name of “California-Oregon Power Co.,” a long-gone electric power company.
“As an architect, Paul could visualize what that space could look like,” Terry Bentley said. “That really was a selling point for him. We tried to keep the architectural style and add modern conveniences.”
In 2017, after 17 years of using only the first floor, they decided it was time to enact their vision.
“We just felt like the timing was right; the economy was growing, and the timing was right for us as well,” Terry Bentley said. “We really just hope to see downtown become revitalized. We know tourists would enjoy this if they had a cool place to stay.”
Terry Bentley said they knew there was some history with the site and learned from the Douglas County Museum of History that the Bell Sisters were the first occupants. They ran a hat and dress shop on the main floor starting in 1909 while managing the rooms above.
“We really wanted to honor their entrepreneurial spirit,” Terry Bentley said. “From the beginning, it influenced what we were going to name them and the design. One of the things we decided to do in the common hallway was highlight the history, so there are these old pictures that show the history.”
The two rentals are named after the sisters, Minnie and Mineta, and are available through the website, bellsisterflats.com for $300 to $350 per night. The website also provides a list of things to keep guests entertained, including local businesses, festivals and scenic sites.
“There are lots of experiences here in the Umpqua to see,” Terry Bentley said. “People want a unique experience. They aren’t looking to stay in a local hotel or motel. It’s really a more elegant experience.”
At the grand opening, the Bentleys will open up the flats for people to view. They will be available for questions will hold a business card raffle.