Co-op Business Partner Profile: Sixth Street Retreat

This month I enjoyed getting a tour of the lovely Sixth Street Retreat with all of its charm. The Craftsman-style house was built in 1918 and has cupboards and large enamel kitchen sinks from the 1940s.

Carol and Walt Spurling purchased the house in December, 2001, after moving to Moscow from Sitka, Alaska. They moved into one of the apartments for a year, and rented out the other two apartments. A couple of years later they turned the house into an inviting short-term rental place for visitors to the area.

Carol and Walt have done a lot of work on the landscaping around the house. They began the work when their son, Reed, was two years old and running around, intending to create a buffer between his venturings and the street. The landscaping includes many plants which make the house more attractive and private, including drought-tolerant native plants and fruit trees. They have also done much renovation inside the house, including scraping linoleum; sanding and refinishing floors; and installing new toilets, sinks, and showers.

The Sixth Street Retreat is open year-round and has three apartments. There are beds and futons for 14 people, plus a couple of cots. The house is located in one of Moscow's oldest residential neighborhoods and is close to downtown and the University of Idaho. The apartments are available for rent by the day, week, or month. People can rent the entire house or just one apartment.

Though the house is historic, the amenities are modern. The apartments have wireless Internet and Apple TV. Carol said they have many repeat visitors. Parents of college students like having the ability to cook a meal for their children who have been missing home cooking. They also host a variety of other visitors such as Northwest Public Radio guests, Moscow Food Co-op consultants, and visiting doctors and writers. The retreat is also popular with families for family reunions and graduations.

Carol and Walt met in college in Missoula, where she majored in literature and he majored in political science. After graduating, they moved to Sitka where Carol worked at Old Harbor Bookstore and did freelance writing. Eventually the constant rain in Sitka became hard to take. Carol's friend, Bruce Calkins, owner of Brused Books, hired her to manage the bookstore. The Spurlings first moved to Pullman, and then later to Moscow where Carol worked for several years at the Co-op.

In 2011, Carol and Walt, along with Steffen and Nicole Werner, purchased the delightful BookPeople bookstore. Carol is a self-described Francophile. She loves traveling in Europe, especially France, which she has visited at least six times, sometimes for as long as three months. She has particularly gotten caught up in the food aspect of France, which continues to draw her back. Traveling in Europe on their first trip in 2004 is what gave the Spurlings the idea of making their Sixth Street house into short-term rental apartments like the gîtes where they stayed in France. They found it so nice to be able to cook for themselves and have the sense of place one doesn't get when staying in a motel.

To learn more about the Sixth Street Retreat and get information about reserving an apartment, check out the website,