David and Beth Toland are doing their part to breathe new life into downtown Iola.
Their latest effort was to provide a large and highly visible venue for Kelly Sigg’s Audacious Boutique, in what for years was the main financial floor of Iola State Bank. The Tolands are elated for having been able to put an Iola landmark building back in the commercial mainstream.
They had similar outcomes when they purchased and renovated the old Embassy Shoe and Rocking-B buildings in the first block of West Jackson Avenue.
Each was an investment made with intention of turning a profit, but “we also appreciate buildings that are part of Iola’s history, especially the bank with our family having been involved,” he said.
Toland’s grandfather, Stanley Toland, joined the firm of R.F. Oyler and G.R. Gard, whose offices were on the second floor above the bank, after he graduated from KU Law in 1932. A few years later, after Oyler and Gard had died, Toland moved to the second floor’s front office. As part of his private practice, Toland served as counsel to the bank.
DAVID AND BETH got their start after they completed advanced degrees at KU — he in public administration and she from the school of education — and moved to Washington, D.C. in 2001.
David spent the next six years working as an aid to Washington mayor Anthony Williams, and a year as vice president of a real estate development firm.
“Soon after we arrived in Washington, we became urban pioneers,” said Toland, 35. “We moved into a rough neighborhood on Quincy Street. We wanted to live in an old Victorian home and that was the only place we could afford.”
The Tolands set about remodeling and upgrading the home. When a subway station opened nearby, they purchased two more homes in the same block and brought then up to snuff for rentals.
They still own one of the three.
Had it not been for an opportunity with Thrive Allen County, they might still be in Washington. Toland took Thrive’s reins as executive director in late 2007 and they were full-time Iolans early the next year. The move also put them near their families, his here and Beth’s in Pittsburg.
The couple say by then they were eager for an opportunity to live where they would be more comfortable raising a family, which today includes Caroline, 6, and William, 3.
THEIR INTEREST in revitalizing old structures continued with the move.
The Embassy Shoe building, 10 W. Jackson Ave., had been vacant long enough it was close to being condemned.
“There was nine feet of sewage in the basement,” Toland recalled.
The building was redone, stem to stern. The first floor was remodeled for a business, which Tri-Valley Developmental Services now occupies, and the second floor for an apartment.
Friend Nich Lohman, a pharmacist with Iola Pharmacy, liked what he saw and joined the Tolands to purchase the Rocking-B, 12 W. Jackson. It, too, was gutted and remodeled to modern standards, with another upstairs apartment. Thrive moved to the former tavern from an Iola-owned building half a block east.
Toland is quick to note that because of his association with Thrive, he sold his interest in the Rocking-B building to Lohman, “for exactly what I had put into it.”
Last January, Quincy Ventures — the name of the Tolands’ development company from living on Quincy Street in Washington — purchased the Iola State Bank building, which included office space on the second floor and three small shops at the rear facing Jefferson Avenue.
“It was an investment for us, but we also recognize the building’s history and the fact that my grandfather and uncle, John Toland, practiced law there,” Toland said.
His father, Clyde, didn’t join the firm until it moved to 103 E. Madison Ave.