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An entrepreneurial couple purchased a commercial building that is more than a century old in their Washington town with the goal of opening a restaurant and bar, but they got a rather large surprise when they discovered the property had two murals hidden behind plaster.
Nick and Lisa Timm bought the building from a friend shortly after they moved back to Okanogan, a city that’s nearly five hours away from Olympia — their previous city of residence.
“I run a pest control company and I needed to keep my guys busy through the winter. We thought it might be a good project,” Nick told Fox News Digital in a phone interview. “We were supposed to be done by now, but we found the murals and things kind of extended our timeline out a little bit.”
Washington couple Lisa (left) and Nick (right) Timm purchased a more than century-old commercial building from a friend with the intent to open a restaurant and bar in Okanogan, a city that’s nearly five hours away from Olympia.
The murals were discovered in late January after Nick and his staff decided to check what was behind the plaster walls. They ended up finding two landscape murals on the building’s north- and south-facing walls, which measure about 20 feet in height and 60 feet in length.
Since finding the murals, the Timms have been able to uncover a lot of information about the building and its artwork with help from the Okanogan County Historical Society.
“It’s in amazingly good condition for what it is,” Nick said, in reference to the murals. “It was uncovered for three years from when it was painted [sometime around] 1915. And then it was visible for three years and then coated over. So the colors are as vibrant as the day they were painted.”
Nick Timm, U.S. Air Force veteran and managing partner of Solutions Weed and Pest Control, worked with his team to repair the old building he purchased with his wife. They eventually discovered two murals were hidden behind plaster walls.
While the colors still pop, the Timms are doing their best to keep the murals preserved. Small portions have sustained water damage from the building’s “compromised roof” — a task that’s hard to repair while there’s winter snow present, according to Nick.
He also noted that some sections of the murals have lines running across it because the plaster was applied directly on top of the paintings, but he estimates that 85 to 90% of the artwork is still intact.
Researchers at the Okanogan County Historical Society were able to tell the Timms that the murals were likely painted by local decorator W.J. McConnon.
A 1915 newspaper clipping the society uncovered from the Okanogan Independent named McConnon as “as experienced decorator” who was commissioned by contractor J.M. Deeds of Wenatchee for interior renovations to the commercial space, which was then known as the Hub Theatre.
“The new improvements at the Hub include 120 feet of panoramic landscape scenery in light tans,” the Okanogan Independent wrote about the former playhouse, at the time.
The two landscape murals on the building’s north- and south-facing walls measure about 20 feet in height and 60 feet in length.
Nick told Fox News Digital that the discovery of the murals fall in line with his family’s plans for their restaurant and bar.
“We’re wanting to put a bar and restaurant in with a little event venue and call it the Red Light Bar because there’s only one red light in town,” Nick said. “We want to honor everything that this place has been and everything it can be with a melding of the past and present.”
When their business finally opens up, Nick said they plan to showcase artwork, photos, news clippings, artifacts and other memorable keepsakes from Okanogan families.
“Most of the families that are here have been here a hundred-plus years, mine included,” Nick said. “We all came over at the turn of the century to try and farm out here, and a lot of the farming families are still here doing that.”
Nick and Lisa Timm are raising money to help cover preservation costs for the murals.
The Timms are hoping to have their historical restaurant and bar open sometime in September or October. They’re currently accepting donations that will go toward the two murals’ preservation on GoFundMe.
“We’ve seen such a huge outpouring of support,” Nick said. “There’s not a single person in town that’s been negative about what’s going on. They’re so excited about the mural, about the history and about what we’re trying to do with the building.”
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