Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Stagecoach Stop is Re-born

"But today, raccoons are the only occupants of the oldest brick building in Sangamon County (Illinois). Thick vines of ivy cover almost an entire side of the structure, which is surrounded by empty liquor bottles and large downed tree branches. The condition of the building has deteriorated to the point that it is one of the state's 10 most endangered historic places for 2007."

Such was the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois' assessment of the condition of the Broadwell Tavern and Inn (left) in Clayville, IL.

"The two-story tavern, built in 1834 by John Broadwell, closely resembled a country inn in England where his ancestors had come from. Downstairs was a kitchen, a bar, and a commons area (left and below), where we met

storyteller Kathy Moseley.

Upstairs were rooms in which travelers could rest. Our guide stated that as many as 15 people may arrive on a stagecoach for an overnight stay. One of two large rooms (above) provided sleeping space for men; the other for the women passengers.

A less accommodating space (left) provided a sleeping space for the stagecoach driver and his team.

Through the 1860s, the tavern thrived on a steady influx of cattle drivers, merchants, and stagecoach passengers.

From the Inn's second floor we could see the original road that the stagecoach traveled on its route between Beardstown and Springfield.

"In May, 2009, volunteers formed the Pleasant Plains Historical Society. In June of 2009 a purchase agreement was reached and on July 11, 2009 work at the site began. Over 50 volunteers came and by lunch time, for the first time in over 10 years, the Broadwell Tavern was visible from the road."

We made it to Clayville on the final day of the three-day Spring Festival. Among the craft demonstrations was this woman who spun wool using a gravity spinner.

She was quite knowledgeable about spinning and and eagerly answered cousin Dora's questions about spinning flax. Dora had a photo that was framed with a woven flax border.

This photo and the one below show the restored interior of one of the cabins on the grounds.

Other people demonstra-ting their crafts included a potter, a blacksmith, a cooper, and these quilters.

There was one "incident" involving gunfire during our time there, but order was quickly restored.

As the skies darkened, the merchants and craftsmen began tying up their tents. We headed back to our car--about 45 seconds too late. The rains came. And followed us along the dozen or so miles back to Springfield.

"After years of neglect, every building on the site of the decaying 19th-century stagecoach stop had been ransacked and vandalized." But the leadership of the preservation society and numerous volunteers have done a marvelous job restoring this historic Inn and surrounding buildings.

Quoted information has been obtained from the historic Clayville webpage.

NOTE: We made a brief stop in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa and plan to be heading on to Iowa City tomorrow until June 12th. Then it's Kansas City (one week) and Junction City, KS (2 days).

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