Ben and Ann Hittle took a leap of faith when they decided to buy a two-story building at c. that was constructed in 1915. According to Ben, it originally housed a business for the sale of stationery and books.
Yakima Mayor Bert Broad later used the building, and around 1970 Cliff Miller purchased it for his camera shop. When Miller retired, his son Dave Miller took over the family business. After he’d owned it for several years, he realized it was his turn to retire and put the structure up for sale.
The Hittles saw the “Retired” sign in the building’s window and quickly called Dave to make and offer. Fortunately for them, he accepted.
When I interviewed Ben and Ann, I quickly realized that these were definitely people of action. Ben was born in Union Gap and went on to graduate from Eisenhower High School. He loved sports, however, he also was the drum major when the Ike band performed at the Rose Bowl. He attended Yakima Valley Community College and studied criminal justice and has served as a board member for the Yakima County Crime Stoppers.
Ben comes from a law enforcement background and his career spanned 33 years working in the Yakima Valley. He has served as a beat cop in downtown Yakima, where he became well acquainted with all of the local business owners. His assignments have also included Special Operations and SWAT. In addition, he worked for many years as a police officer-detective for the Yakima Police Department.
Following the end of his police career, he worked for 11 years as director of security at the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences until he officially retired. Today he’s the owner and operator of Ben Hittle Crime Prevention through Environmental Design.
His lovely wife Ann has been the CFO at the Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences for over 14 years. She oversees all financial aspects of the startup medical school and health science university in Yakima. Prior to that she was the comptroller for the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic and before that she was a CPA for Moss Adams LLP. Ben and Ann were married in 2013.
The Hittles took ownership of the former Efcom Building on North Second Street in January 2019. They hoped their efforts to remodel the building would not only provide them with a spacious loft in which live, but also create a new business that would help attract more people to downtown Yakima.
Today the building is totally remodeled, and “Schab’s Beer Den,” on the building’s street level, officially opened on Aug. 15, 2020. The Hittles’ renovation of their second-floor living space took a bit longer, but the result is amazing.
One of the first projects the couple embarked on was to remodel the ancient stairs up to the second floor, making it much easier for the couple and their construction workers to reach their loft. The pair often stayed in lofts when they traveled and they came armed with many ideas on making the building’s second floor livable.
When they welcomed me into their home, I have to admit I was immediately impressed by the main room that encompasses a large kitchen and dining area on one side of the space and a casual living room area on the other. Ann’s son Conor gets credit for exposing the majority of the 1915 brick walls by scraping off 1-1 ½ inches of ancient, white plaster. Today the red brick walls make a rich backdrop for a variety of framed photos, artwork and architectural plans that line the walls.
An open kitchen, featuring gorgeous white kitchen counters and a wall of white cupboards are situated near a beautiful, long wood dining table made from Indian Sheesham hardwood. Across the room you can find a cozy sitting area complete with comfortable chair and a leather sofa, where friends can relish a pre-dinner glass of wine or enjoy an evening of television.
On the opposite side of the room is an airplane desk that features a computer that provides a great space for work. Just beyond are two very cool, retro style airplane chairs perfect for relaxing and enjoying conversation. Fortunately, Ben’s mother Evelyn’s antique ice chest is at the ready for serving drinks and is joined by Ann’s mother Teeny’s refinished 1915 Kitchen Queen which is used for storing a variety of glasses.
I was very intrigued by the outdoor balcony off the living room that offers a superb view of Second Street and beyond. Ben and Ann were determined to be able to use it and a team of workmen made that possible. It’s the perfect place to sit outside and have dinner on a summer night in the company of good friends.
The couple have a very comfortable master bedroom/bath just down the hall. The best part is that the huge shower has a window, (remember they live up on the second floor) a structural fact which provides them with an amazing view of the top of the iconic Larson Building. To me, that would provide the perfectly inspirational way to start every day! The room also has a door that gives access to the back rooftop and leads to a wonderful hot tub! A small laundry room can be found down the hall and features a set of old lockers from Cliff Millers that were used to store laundry soap, batteries, etc.
Their loft also features a den used as Ann’s CFO home office. The couple would like to establish a place on the roof where they can enjoy the out-of-doors while getting a wide view of downtown Yakima and beyond. Probably one of the best perks about the building is their enormous three car garage in the basement and an additional space that has been transformed into a gym.
With surprises at every turn, the Hittles’ loft is truly amazing. The best part is that Ann and Ben have put their hearts and souls into creating a wonderful home that I know they’ll enjoy for many years to come.