Major makeover

The interior was gutted, removing many walls.

The interior was gutted, removing many walls. KIMBERLY MINER

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Once looking like a potential candidate for the wrecking ball, one of downtown Walla Walla’s historic buildings has gained a new lease on life.

Built in 1905, the huge brick building at the corner of Poplar Street and Fourth Avenue has gone through many changes since starting life as M. McDonald’s Feed and Sale — Stable. But as it passed its 100-year mark, the structure was on the verge of a transformation that has turned it into a blend of past, present and future.

“We started this two years ago,” said Jeanese LeFore, owner of Misbehaven Spa & Salon when she and the building’s owner, Mari Danihel, began talking about remodeling the building to make it the new home for Misbehaven, which had outgrown its location on Alder Street.

Enter Jeff Moeller and his construction company. Starting in January 2013, Moeller and his workers began a monumental makeover.

“We gutted the whole interior,” Moeller said. Although the building “was in pretty good shape overall,” over the years, tenants had partitioned the interior with one wall after another, all of which had to come out.

While the work on the inside was mostly out of sight, it was the work on the outside that became the most visible measure of the venerable building’s restoration. Layers of paint were stripped off to reveal the original brickwork, a painstaking job that also involved redoing all the mortar in the 16-inch thick walls.

Removal of the old paint also uncovered the original logos painted on the building, which proclaimed “M. McDONALD FEED AND SALE — STABLE.” That bit of Walla Walla’s history was preserved, thanks to Pierre Remillard, a Walla Walla artist who restored the signage. “We thought that was a neat idea to bring that back,” Moeller said.

Most of the building’s new interior is now home to Misbehaven, which relocated in October, while another section facing Poplar Street will be let out for a separate retail operation. The cost of the restoration and remodel came in at “shy of a million dollars” Moeller said.

Working to restore the historic structure was a unique experience, Moeller said, “and you have to give credit to the owner. I was excited to have a customer who wanted to do it right and keep the building as it was.”

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