Bonelli House is one of the first houses made in Kingman, Arizona.
George A. Bonelli (1869-1933) was the son of immigrants who met in 1860 aboard ship en route from Switzerland and England. The family name had been Bommeli, but it was changed by George’s grandfather (Hans Georg Bommeli) when he became a Mormon while still residing in Switzerland.
In January of 1895, George married Effie E. Tarr Bonelli (1875-1961), daughter of the Kingman Santa Fe Railroad station master. They had nine children (one succumbed to scarlet fever in 1905) and operated four successful retail shops and a 250,000 acre ranch. Their first home was built in 1894 as a wedding gift for Effie and, desiring the latest innovations, the house was wired for electricity. In 1915 the house caught fire from a suspected electrical short. Everyone escaped to safety but most of their possessions were lost. The Bonellis rebuilt the home in nine months with a fire-resistant plaster, local quarried Tufa stone and an exit door from every room (upstairs and downstairs) to the veranda. Passive air-conditioning was provided by the cupola (captain’s tower), which drafted hot desert air upward and out the roof.
Most of the children moved from Kingman, but the Bonelli House remained the epicenter of family gatherings for two generations. The seventh child, Joseph (1907-1974), was the last to live in the House. In 1973, the City of Kingman acquired the home and it was turned into a museum as part of the United States Bicentennial Project, opening to the public in 1978. The house is furnished with period pieces (circa 1900-1955) and original Bonelli family possessions such as clothing, accessories, art, crafts, books, and remnants of family treasures.
Operated by the Mohave Pioneers Historical Society, the House provides an excellent example of Anglo-territorial architecture at the turn of the 20th century. Volunteers and tour guides walk visitors through the home giving a tour of this special period on Southwest American history.
Tour guides are at the House weekdays to conduct personal tours, provide historic background, share stories, and answer questions about pioneer life and activities of the day.