Putting Grundy Center on the map: Clocktower Suites opens up as GC’s first AirBNB host

Joan Schuller (above) and her husband John recently became the first AirBNB hosts in Grundy Center after they opened up their new Clocktower Suites above the former Frederick Furniture building at 711 G Ave. (Michaela Kendall/Grundy Register photo)

GRUNDY CENTER – With hosts around the world, AirBNB has changed the way travelers look at accommodation. Now tourists have access to homes, private apartments, beach houses, renovated campers, and even tree houses across the globe, which they can rent for as little as one day, or as long as several months. With over 4 million listings for rent on the website, travelers can now add one more destination to their list: Grundy Center.

In late February, Grundy Center residents Joan and John Schuller opened up Grundy Center’s first AirBNB listing - Clocktower Suites - located in the upper story of the former Frederick Furniture building at 711 G Avenue.

Joan says she and her husband first bought the building in October of 2016, and began a year-long renovation in the upper story that lasted from early 2017 to the beginning of 2018.

“The upper floor hadn’t really been used or heated for the last 50 years, so it was kind of a mess,” she said.

John did much of the deconstruction himself, while Joan sketched out her vision for the space. The couple hired local contractors for construction, electric, plumbing and HVAC work.

And while much of the place needed to be gutted, Joan says the couple tried to preserve as much of the old history and charm that made the building so special in the first place.

Original wood flooring, window frames, and a high, decorative-paneled ceiling now mingle with modern design and décor, much of which was picked by local interior designer, Katie McMartin, whose shop is located directly beneath the new AirBNB suite.

“Our aim was to preserve as much of the history as possible, and keep a lot of those original pieces,” Joan said.

And though the couple’s goal never was to become long-term, full-time landlords, Joan said she and John wanted to find a way to utilize empty space in the downtown district.

“We just wanted to find a way to transform this historic upper story into a usable space,” she said. “When we started brainstorming ideas for it, we kind of landed on turning it into an AirBNB short term rental. We’ve used AirBNB before while traveling, and thought it could work for this space.”

For the full story, see this week's Grundy Register.