Every community across Illinois has a link to Lincoln.
I spent the night in Pittsfield, Ill after crossing from Hannibal, MO and traveling east on Highway 106. One historical marker in front of the Shastid family home on E. Jefferson St. said Lincoln was a frequent guest. A plaque outside the home noted Lincoln once ate all the families’ pigeons for dinner, leaving seven of the Shastid children hungry. One boy was so mad, he called Lincoln a ‘big ole hog.’
Up the block on E. Washington St. is the William Watson Hotel. (see picture HERE) Built in 1838, the hotel was a frequent Lincoln hangout; he was noted to kill time in the hotel lobby between court sessions or while waiting for a verdict from the courthouse across the street. The lobby at the Watson Hotel featured an original decorative tin ceiling, a large red-framed portrait of Lincoln on the west wall, and dark hardwood floors. “There are 14 rooms in the hotel,” said owner Jonas Perry. We chatted a bit about the hotel and the tour. He said another man on a bike passed through recently, traveling from Florida to Alaska. “You should stay here,” said Jonas. I backed away from the generous offer, explaining my limited travel finances. Jonas then moved out from behind the counter, slapped a key in my hand and said it would be a complimentary stay. “I’m the owner and you’re in room 207,” he said. “Enjoy the experience.”
Note to self, Illinois has fabulous hospitality .
I was wide-eyed as I totally snooped around the place. All of that was made easy because the hotel left the doors open to unoccupied rooms and suites. Perry, who had invested in three downtown buildings, did an amazing rehab. There were exposed red brick walls in every room. Antique furniture completed the amenities with distressed wood dressers and cabinets and old two-and-three-panel doors as bed headboards. Walls in the hallway were painted a light olive, offset by clean, white trim. Tin signs for Royal Crown Cola, King Edward Cigars and Clown Cigarettes hung in the hallway. And by the kitchen a couple of framed newspaper articles detailing Perry’s accomplishments and his selection as one of the 40-under-40 leaders in the community.