Posted: Aug 17, 2012 9:03 AM by Breanna Roy - KPAX News
Updated: Aug 17, 2012 9:05 AM
BONNER- Driving through Bonner on Montana Highway 200, it's had to miss the row of historic houses that are boarded up and sitting on blocks.
But as reporter Breanna Roy found out, there's once again some movement around the homes that have sat quiet for so many years.
The Bonner mill community a few miles east of Missoula built itself on pride, and you can still see it in the details of each company home- if you can see past the peeling paint.
"In my lifetime it went from a beautiful little town to a bum jungle over here. Ah, I wanted to go over there and personally do some evicting," former Bonner mill worker Glenn Smith said.
He grew up in this neighborhood and remembers the people who called it home, before the homeless moved in.
Only mill workers families could live in the homes. They had to keep their lawns trimmed and park in their garages, so as to not block the beauty of the homes.
But today, the windows on the houses that aren't boarded up are busted out.
The mill's new owners say still see potential in each one of the 16 abandoned homes and work is starting to restore, renovate and eventually rent them out once again. They hope to being life back to the area.
"That's like pickin' up an old book. Your favorite story. And thumbin' through the pages and say, yeah, ‘this is how I remembered it.' It's comin' back. It's a pleasure to look at what it's gonna become again," Smith observed.
"The trees cleaned up, the logs put back, the houses painted. Kids playin in the yard and people comin' and goin', so to me, if that happens, I couldn't ask for anything more," he concluded.
The work is bringing Bonner closer to the community it was built to be.
Western Montana Development hopes to have the homes available to rent within the next two years, adding that since the homes were built by the lumber company, they are sturdy and in remarkably good shape inside.