By Cristina Janney
RUSSELL — A Russell couple have renovated a former downtown law office built in 1905 into Airbnb.
Jon and Kim Birky purchased the building at 620 N. Main in 2020. They renovated half of the 4,000 square foot upper level into their private residence. The other half is now The Lawft, a four-bedroom, four-bathroom Airbnb.
The couple gutted the top floor of the building, removing 29 tons of material from the building during the renovation.
The couple, who also own the Klema Apple Market, said they were empty nests and wanted to downsize. The other half of the building brings income.
Other rental amenities include a small kitchen, gas fireplace for washer and dryer, and a small deck. Each bedroom has its own television.
The couple have tried to retain some of the historic aspects of the building. They removed the plaster on the walls to expose the original limestone bricks. The hinged doors have been redone.
A window from the original law firm hangs as decoration in the living room, which also includes a conference table and chairs from the law firm.
One wall of the spacious living room is adorned with custom-made floor-to-ceiling built-in shelves filled with old law books.
The rental has only been listed on Airbnb since June. A medical student assigned to the hospital stayed in the rental that month, and the couple have more bookings this month.
Russell has two other Airbnbs downtown lofts, the Historic Waudby Apartment and the Boho Bungalow.
Jon Birky said the downtown location is directly across from the historic Dream Theater. Several bars/restaurants and a cafe are within easy walking distance.
“It’s a great opportunity to improve downtown Russell and bring it up to date,” he said of the loft. “We are one of two buildings that are fully up to code right now with a sprinkler system and everything newly renovated upstairs.”
He said he thinks other building owners will emulate the loft model.
Kim Birky said Russell is a convenient meeting place, easily accessible from Interstate 70 between Kansas City and Denver for some families. Another group booked the Airbnb instead of camping and took their boats to Lake Wilson during the day.
“Also, if a large family is coming back to Russell for a funeral or a wedding, it’s a great option,” Jon Birky said.
The Birkys are looking for tenants for the two storefronts on the lower level of the building, which could be used for offices or retail. The space still needs updating, but Jon Birky said the couple are waiting to see the needs of a new tenant.
The space rents for $150 per night Monday through Thursday and $200 per night on weekends. Additional fees include one-time cleaning fees, Airbnb service fees, and taxes.
The Lawft can be rented through Airbnb at https://abnb.me/QHN7BgW65qb.