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New owners uphold traditions at Northside School Bed and Breakfast

by Tanna Yeoumans Staff Writer
| April 18, 2019 1:00 AM

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The formal dining room is where guests may enjoy a homemade breakfast during their stay.

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Each room boasts its own unique decor.

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Photo by TANNA YEOUMANS The owners have continued to keep the history of the building alive, as keeping the original chalkboards from the classrooms.

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Photo by TANNA YEOUMANS With each room, the bed and breakfast brings its guests unique decor and Bonners Ferry history.

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Photo by TANNA YEOUMANS This headboard was crafted from wooden and other pieces found throughout the property, bringing the lavendar Meeker room a touch more history.

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Photo by TANNA YEOUMANS This old school desk is flanked by a piece of history in the form of a love declaration from one former student about another.

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Photo by TANNA YEOUMANS This room boasts a nightstand of travelers suitcases adorned with stickers.

BONNERS FERRY — The former Northside School building was transformed years ago into a bed and breakfast with a historical background for visitors to enjoy.

The property and building was recently purchased by new residents from Oregon, Jerri and Frank Duarte, and their family.

Upon entering the building, to the left, visitors may notice an old school bell and a photo of school children playing around the building. To the right, one can see a case of knick knacks that were found around the property. Those are the first of many displays depicting the history of the building, with the bedrooms’ decor reflecting on the nostalgic time.

After vacationing in North Idaho, the Duartes decided they wanted to eventually retire in the area. They had previously visited Bonners Ferry and decided that it was an option for a place to purchase property.

“We came up last summer to look at some property,” said Jerri Duarte. “We just happened to stay here. At breakfast, before we went to meet the Realtor, my husband was talking to Ruth (the previous owner) and she announced that it was for sale.”

The idea piqued the couples interest, as they were not only looking to purchase property, but help support their family.

“On the way back from viewing properties, we were talking about how this building was for sale, and how this community was great for raising children,” said Jerri Duarte.

Her daughter and her daughter’s husband decided to move their family closer to the Duartes with the idea to live in Coeur d’Alene or Spokane for job availability, but after the idea of purchasing the bed and breakfast arose, the family had a decision to make.

“We came up with the idea that we can purchase the place, and they could help run it,” said Jerri Duarte. “It can be their jobs.”

Duarte’s daughter Corina, and her husband Eric Johnson, are stepping up to the plate by co-owning and co-running the bed and breakfast. The team is not only keeping the history alive, but they plan to continue to make history as the family brings three generations to the area.

Throughout the building, there are a variety of paintings, rugs, school desks, original chalkboards, and a wide variety of historical items and stories to go along with the building and its decor for visitors to admire.

Each room is themed around the history of the building, from the ‘Principals Room,’ which used to be the office of the former principal, to the headboard made from pieces of the former girls restroom, posts from the property, and topped with what is thought to be former shot put balls.

The formal dining room is lined with a variety of antique and collectible dishware, while the large, southeast-facing windows boast light and panoramic views of Bonners Ferry and the surrounding landscape.

They continue to serve their traditional huckleberry French toast dish along with a variety of breakfast options for their continental breakfast, but they also strive to keep the menu diverse.

Among the various decorations depicting the historical nature of the building, there are a couple of pin maps for visitors to set a pin at where they are visiting from. There is a map of the United States and Canada, which is abundantly pin pricked, and a world map. The world map showcases the wide variety of people from countries throughout the world who have visited not only Bonners Ferry, but the Northside School Bed and Breakfast. There are an abundance of pins from New Zealand, Australia, Europe, and more, adorning the maps on the walls.

Upon entering the historical school building, one comes to the first landing, which depicts the decor of an old school bell, hats the ferrymen wore, ink vials, and old lunch tickets, among other treasures that were discovered on the property. As one continues toward the stairwell, they would be greeted with old school desks, paintings, wash basins, and a variety of other historical decor. There are paintings throughout the building that students and staff members concocted and continue to adorn the walls of the building.

The second landing, just up the main stairwell, is the front desk, dining hall, and a handicap accessible room complete with an adjacent lift. Each room has their own restroom and unique decor accentuating the history of the building and those that previously utilized it.

Up the stairs from there is a communal area where visitors may sit and converse, play a game of chess, play one of the varieties of supplied board games, or read a book from the shelf.

“This is an area that we set up so that people can visit, do a puzzle, or read a book,” said Jerri Duarte. “At night it is so pretty here because you can see the lights from the highway through town. This is my favorite spot.”

Continuing through the building and up another staircase, there is a door leading to an outdoor seating area complete with umbrella shaded tables, a horseshoe pit, a hot tub, and a pool area as one views the outdoor grounds.

Throughout the property there are a variety of garden areas that can be strolled through, benches and areas that can be lounged in, and space for children to run.

The bed and breakfast boasts several rooms, one of which is handicap accessible, one king sized bed suite, and one with two twin beds for those wishing to room together and have separate sleeping arrangements.

“We will be open year round, which is a change from the last owner,” said Jerri Duarte. “Please send friends, family, and anybody our way.”

With a variety of family oriented activities and a historical background, the Duarte and Johnson families have been welcomed with open arms by upcoming customers, local residents, and business owners.

The Northside School Bed and Breakfast is located at 6497 Comanche St. They can be contacted through email at northsideschoolbedandbreakfast@yahoo.com, northsideschoolbandb.com, 208-267-1826, toll free at 1-877-222-1826, or on Facebook at Northside School Bed and Breakfast.