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INSIDE THE STEPHENSON HOUSE - February 9, 2005

Hi! Henry the Stephenson House mouse is back again. Oh my gosh, do I have news for you! "My' house now has real door knobs and locks on the outside doors! There are two styles of hardware because, you know, the Stephenson House is a true restoration project. The 1820 part of the house has brass knobs and locks used in that era and the 1845 addition has black metal hardware with porcelain knobs reminiscent of that time period. This authentic hardware is really good looking!


There are lots of things happening and lots of planning going on by the Friends of the Stephenson House as they work toward opening in October. What Ol' Henry hears is that the house will open to the public when the summer kitchen is built. You know ya' gotta have a kitchen with a big hearth and fire to do so many of the things that they did in 1820! Jamie is working on plans for the summer kitchen and the goal is to be under construction this spring and ready by October. The summer kitchen will be the center of many of the projects and activities held at the Stephenson House.


Hey, Henry here made it to the Annual Meeting and I saw a lot of you enjoying the evening. Ol' Henry enjoyed it to hearing Carol and Joe speak and listening to Mayor Gary auction a lot of really neat items. John McKee, also known as Sid Denny, who was Col. Ben's right-hand man and Registrar of the Land brought some friends with him that were in Edwardsville in the 1820s. Ann Gillham, Jacque Mette, Mary Robinson and Daniel Tolman came with John and they all answered questions from you folks. Ol' Henry thinks a lot of history was presented as these folks, dressed in authentic clothing, answered questions about life in the 1820s in Edwardsville. What a fun way to learn! It was a really great evening of activity; and, by the way, it included food that looked mighty good to Ol' Henry.


Now, we all know that the city and the Historic Preservation Commission got this project started with money Senator Evelyn Bowles 'found' in 1998 for them through a State of Illinois grant. Joe, the mighty hard working leader, got the house cleaned up with the help of HPC members. Then, thanks to Norm and the Madison County Sheriffs Alternative Program, 'my' house was, as some might say, "gutted" and the restoration was on its way. One thing Henry and a lot of you people know is that the Stephenson House would not be where it is today with out the help of SWAP. Thank you Norm and SWAP!


Next, Carol led the fifteen-member board of The Friends of the Col. Benjamin Stephenson House on the gigantic task of the restoration. And, what a job they have done with your help. "Your" - who is your? The "your" is you, each and every one of you who has contributed in any manner to the restoration effort. This community has proven once again that the people of Edwardsville have a tremendous amount of pride in their hometown. The City, HPC, and The Friends came with a dream and the support has been incredible. Your support has come in many ways such as money, volunteer equipment, volunteer labor, donation of materials, buying tickets to the fundraisers, and becoming a member of The Friends. Your help is appreciated whatever the size or nature of your contribution. And Henry knows because he hears the Board Members talk about how great you have been!


At the Annual Meeting I listened as Joe talked about all that has been accomplished in just five years. Ol' Henry realized that this old mouse has seen and learned a lot from my hidey places. For instance, this mouse has seen first hand how E.J. and his crew love and are dedicated to their work. They are truly master craftsmen. I've seen Joe spend a lot of time with E.J. as the project progressed. I've seen the plumber, the electrician and the painters giving 'my' house extra special treatment. Everyone who works here on any project really cares about 'my' house.


Not too many years ago, this old house of Col. Ben's shook and swayed - it was 182 years old. Doesn't shake and sway anymore because now there are new beams with a new shake roof just like the one Col. Ben put on. You folks have all helped make this possible.


Henry keeps looking around, thinking about all the things Joe mentioned that have been accomplished. The garden committee has spent hours and hours preparing the garden, the yard and planting trees. The garden was planted with vegetable seeds that were first introduced in Thomas Jefferson's garden. As Ol' Henry looks around he sees 'my' house returned to the original brick with shutters designed like the original ones. And, there is a staircase just like Col. Ben's and fireplaces that are safe and work. That's a lot!
So many of the good things Joe talked about were done by volunteers. Each board member has found his or her little niche and they all work away at their "job" whether it is fund raising, grant writing, searching for the best buy or a gift of furniture or searching for the history of Col. Ben and Lucy. They all sure keep busy!
There are volunteers who build fences and others who maintain the website. There have been young volunteers like the students from St. Mary's School who raked leaves. And there is the Sig Ep Fraternity who helped with heavy yard work. Then there is The Paint Crew, a great group of volunteers. Henry knows they have accomplished a lot and are hard workers, but I have to chuckle as I listen to them laughing and joking with each other!


One volunteer group I bet very few of you know about is the Neighborhood Food Brigade. Yep, the folks in the neighborhood have been keeping Keith and the crew well fed for a long time. Golly, these neighbors are good cooks. This one guy can catch and fry the best fish you will ever eat!


Volunteers and interested folks will be needed before the Stephenson House opens in October so don't be shy or hesitant! You are needed - so call a board member, write to Henry at P.O. Box 754 or e-mail the board at stephensonhouse@hotmail.com.


Thanks guys. Henry thinks the best is yet to come for 'my' house and the folks of Edwardsville. YOU made it happen!


See ya' later,
Henry


 


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