INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - June 21, 2006
Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. "My"
house gardens were on the Master Gardeners Garden Tour last Saturday and
what a wonderful day it was! The folks on the tour were happy people enjoying
the gardens and the kitchen. Some planned ahead for lunch served on the
porch and enjoyed the refreshing breeze that comes through there.
It was a very pleasant, low-key day, due to the efforts of many volunteers
who had worked many hours. Ol' Henry sat back, enjoyed and looked around.
Do you know how many different gardens and various plants the garden committee
attends? Well, there is the big vegetable garden, including the scarecrow;
there is the rose and boxwood garden and the herbs and the kitchen garden.
Then, there is the relaxation/shade garden that features hostas, peonies,
hydranga and other smaller plants. Near the shade garden there are planted
old-fashioned hollyhocks and ground cover. And, of course, there are developing
fruit trees and grape vines that should bear fruit this year! These gardens
bring to the Stephenson House a pleasant feeling of calm and old-fashioned
Garden Tour folks also visited the kitchen where they heard good stories
and watched the cooking of simple food from long ago. Many then decided
to tour the house, which was a nice experience as usual. Once again, it
was low-key, but pleasant, and Henry could see that the people enjoyed
Yes, life is good at The Stephenson House, "my" house, and is
mainly because of the love and care of many volunteers. It conveys ambiance
and is simply wonderful! It makes people feel good.
As Ol' Henry thought about how pleasant and peaceful "my" house
is I got to thinking about the memories that other folks may have of "my"
house. There is the family of Judge H. K. Eaton, who later retired to
farm in Hamel. And there is the Wolf and Dickmann descendants who must
have many memories and stories about this wonderful place! There are others
like the Waltrip, Weissmann and Berry families. And, there are always
the memories of the Sig Ep young men who come by to visit their old fraternity
The Berry sisters provided a loving home for their orphaned nieces and
nephew. Ol' Henry once overheard Bev and Caryl, nieces of the Berry sisters,
talk about their memories of growing up at 409 S. Buchanan. They mainly
reminisced about Stella and Ione, the Berry sisters, who made their home
so comfortable and memorable.
Bev and Caryl laughed as they starting talking about their first memory.
They were in a car looking at a dilapidated house that needed paint. It
looked like a haunted house. Aunts Stella and Ione loved the house and
reassured the girls that it was beautifully renovated on the inside and
Bev remembered sitting in a perfect pear tree, reading a book and watching
the world go by. She also remembered the bitter disappointment when Aunt
Stella was unable to purchase the adjacent lot and it progressed from
being home to a watermelon stand, then a Mello Queen and eventually the
worst - a gas station!
The girls have memories of washing miles and miles of ornate, carved white
woodwork during summer vacation! And, they remember the excitement of
finding the brick patio under the grass by the back porch. They pulled
grass and Uncle Norman put a brick well cover over the old cistern that
had already been covered with concrete.
Caryl remembers playing house under the magnolia tree, climbing trees
in the lot next door and playing softball in the large yard. Bev has a
big memory of softball when she was 10 years old and broke her leg a rowdy
neighborhood softball game.
Family reunions with games of Hide and Seek, Hide the Thimble and gathering
around the piano while Aunts Stella and Ione played ragtime tunes, are
all part of their memories. Of course, decorating the huge Christmas tree
that sat smack dab in the middle of the foyer was a special memory for
Bev and Caryl had memories of the magnificent magnolia tree throughout
their childhood and early adult life. Bev remembers the beauty of the
huge magnolia tree in full bloom on a special day in April 1956. It was
her wedding reception! This wonderful old house and magnolia tree were
also the setting for Caryl's wedding reception a few years later.
Many others remember the beautiful magnolia tree that seemed to be the
only one in town. As a youngster Loretta enjoyed the beauty of the tree
as she rode her bicycle to St. Boniface School. The magnolia was a beautiful
landmark for many folks in Edwardsville.
Ol' Henry promises to listen very carefully for memories from the Wolf,
Dickmann and Weissmann families. "My" house has been a wonderful
home to many and Henry would like to share their memories.
Hey, by the way, you all are invited to the Dedication and Celebration
of the Benjamin Stephenson House on July 1 and July 2! The Friends and
Henry are very proud of the House and want you to join us in this family
event celebrating the restoration of the Benjamin Stephenson House. Carol
and her committee want this to be a fun event for everyone. There will
be historical interpreters, a furniture maker, leather worker, cooking
and baking demonstration, a militia encampment, basket weaver and a rope
maker. The events will take place during the Saturday hours of 9 am to
5 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. At 1 pm on Sunday, July 2, local and
State dignitaries will be present for the Dedication Ceremony that will
include the Lewis and Clark Fife and Drum Corp will be there and the raising
of the 1820 flag on the great wooden flagpole that Keith built!
Visitors may park at the Bank of Edwardsville's Main Banking Center at
the corner of Vandalia and Benton and shuttle buses will transport you
to "my" house. Henry is looking forward to seeing you on this
fun day! And, there will be docents leading tours of the house for the
small fee of $3 for adults, $2.50 children under 12 and children under
5 are free. If you have questions call Director RoxAnn at 692-1818.
Henry hopes you will stop by and join The Friends and Henry as Col. Ben's
restored home is dedicated!
Hey, did you know why lambs ear was planted on the path to the privy back
in the 1820's? Henry heard on the Garden Tour that it was used as toilet
paper! Now, you all know something new!
See ya' later,