By Joseph Boyle
How many of you have driven past the Lakewood Villa Real Estate sign shown in the photo which displays the historic phone number, JU-4-1600? I am able to answer my own question. You have probably driven past the sign located at 10310 Gravelly Lake Dr SW too many times to count.
Here is the interesting part. Fifty years ago in 1960 Ms. Erma Bonewitz, a Lakewood entrepreneur and Real Estate Broker, started her company, which she named Lakewood Villa Real Estate.
Her inspiration for the business name came from the Villa Plaza Shopping Center, one of the first and largest shopping centers in our area. The Villa Plaza was located directly across Gravelly Lake Dr SW from her business site. The Villa Plaza, which opened in 1957, is now known as The Lakewood Towne Center.
Before the Villa Plaza, the mall site was the home of Visitation Villa, a Catholic girls school and retreat that was open from 1923 to 1954. The use of the word Villa has historical significance in Lakewood, dating back 87 years.
Lakewood Villa Real Estate has served real estate clients in buying, selling and managing real estate in Pierce, King and Thurston counties since that first day of business in 1960.
Twenty-five years ago in 1985, Erma and her husband, Richard Bonewitz retired. Erma’s daughter, Bridget Upton, and Bridget’s husband, Ken Upton acquired the business.
Lakewood Villa Realty is one of the few independent family owned companies serving real estate clients in Lakewood. Most real estate companies in our area are now big corporate company offices or franchise offices.
A question that comes to mind is, “How can a small family owned business survive the cyclical highs and lows of the real estate market for half a century?” Bridget Upton tells me her company secret is the fact that she and her staff make every effort to give personal high quality, ethical and knowledgeable service, which keeps clients and their friends and family coming back for more; year after year for 50 years so far. During my years as a Real Estate Broker in the 1900’s, I had several cross – sale transactions with Lakewood Villa Real Estate, so I know that Bridget’s business success theory is accurate.
Stop by Lakewood Villa Real Estate and wish Bridget and her staff a happy 50th business anniversary in our community. If you do not have time, call the historic phone number on the sign, JU-4-1600 and thank them for being a successful business in our city.
Note: Mr. Ken Upton contributed to this story.
Old Centurian says
“During my years as a Real Estate Broker in the 1900’s…” Joe, I know you are old…but not THAT old! Great story, thanks for sharing!
Ben Sclair says
Technically, it was the 1900s. Funny all the same, though.
Patricia Mannie says
Thank you for this interesting story, Mr. Boyle. It is so important to continue to tell stories of history. I admire the longevity of Lakewood Villa Real Estate and love their unique sign!
Jeff Brewster says
Thanks for history lesson, Joe. Very interesting.
Linda Heiser says
Nice story, Joe. Those of us in the business can appreciate the hard work that goes into something lasting. And it is nice to acknowledge such.
Tim Marsh says
My response concerns the JU-4-1600 phone number. I grew up in Lakewood, arriving as a youngster in the 1950s and graduating from Lakes High School in 1966. When I arrived with my family, Lakewood phone numbers were LA as in LAkewood. Later, the prefix was changed to JU as in JUnpier. I still have my softball glove from when I played in the Lakewood Recreation Association. It’s my recollection that when I got the glove LA was still being used, but JU was on the way. So, I had my name and the “new” JU number written on the glove. Another recollection … I believe the telephone company (Pacific Northwest Bell) gave confusion as “a” or “the” reason for changing our phone numbers from LAkewood to JUniper. What confusion? Allegedly some people were confused and could/would/might mistaken our Lakewood with the Lakewood in Snohomish County. Our original family home phone number was LA followed by four digits. When the LAkewood prefix was dropped the JUnpier prefix was introduced, the home phone number became JU-8 followed by four digits. Over the years, I’ve been under the impression that the JU-4 phone numbers followed the JU-8 phone numbers by several years when numbers with the JU-8 prefix were exhausted. Speaking of exhausting, it must have been exhausting if you read this entire comment!