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Oldest BL home is sold, being renovated
By Teresa Herriman, The Courier-Herald
Scott Corliss has two good reasons for not planning a commercial development or densely-populated subdivision on the Kelley Farm. First, he is an avid history buff who has dreamed of owning the property that sits in the same valley his great-grandfather homesteaded. Second, his own home overlooks the farm at 20123 Sumner-Buckley Highway.
The Corliss family recently purchased the Kelley Farm, on the prairie north of the highway, through their property management company, T & S Properties, LLC. The Corliss family also owns Corliss Resources Inc.
"The property is special to me," Corliss said. "I grew up in this area and it's been a pipe dream of mine to buy this farm."
The 250-plus acre farm includes two houses and several outbuildings. The largest of the homes was built in the 1920s and, Corliss claims, is the oldest house in Bonney Lake. The Kelley Farm originally included orchards and a dairy. Over the years, several generations lived on the property.
William B. Kelley, one of Bonney Lake's early settlers, established the farm in 1864. It had been in the family until Corliss purchased the property from John Kelley, William's great-great grandson.
"By next March or April, this will all be beautifully landscaped," Corliss said.
Corliss plans to renovate the main house and create a park-like setting on the grounds. The single-story, three bedroom home has been re-roofed and is in the process of being restored to it's original condition. Workers are busy refinishing the hardwood floors and replacing exterior siding. They are also conducting a major clean-up of the property that has seen little care over the past couple of decades. The other home on the land will continue to be rented to the current occupant. When work on the main house is complete, it will probably be rented to a caretaker, who will care for the farm and its animals.
Corliss said it is inevitable that the property will be developed. "Our goal is to do a development that will do the property justice," he said. His original idea was to build the property for recreational facilities such as a golf course. However, Corliss was recently approached by an equestrian group and is considering their proposal to convert the property into a polo field. "It's an exciting use of the property," he said, explaining the main house could be used as a club house.
The polo group, as a temporary tenant on the land, could begin holding events at the site as early as 2005. No decision has been made regarding a permanent use.
Currently, the property is zoned for agriculture use and, for the time being, Corliss plans to keep farming it. Neighboring Spooner Farms used 30 acres this fall to grow a bumper crop of pumpkins. There are also plans for planting strawberries this spring.
"It will be at least five years until we plan on doing things with the property."
Corliss recently approached the Bonney Lake City Council, offering to donate the main house to the city if the city would pay to move it to a different site.
"They could use it as a museum or some kind of center that would be open to the public," Corliss said.
Duane Tidball, of the Bonney Lake Historical Society, said his group is working to find such a location.
Corliss said his family paid top-dollar for the land, but declined to disclose the exact amount. By purchasing and developing it to preserve the property, he is ensuring that it remains an open green space.
"I look at the property from my house every night," he said.
Teresa Herriman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org