Painted a rustic orange, Stacy's Tavern stands where it always has, perched on Geneva Road near Five Corners.
When travelers on the roads to and from Chicago 164 years ago needed meals, a place to rest and hay for their horses, they paid the proprieters, Moses and Joann Stacy, 50 cents. Now, for a few more bucks of admission, kids and adults can wander through that same building, still standing on its original foundation. That fact sets Stacy's Tavern apart, as the building is the only stagecoach inn in the state to retain its original foundation.
The building, now known as Stacy's Tavern Museum, has always been the heart of the Glen Ellyn Historical Society, and on Sunday afternoon, it will stand at the core of Tavern Day—a celebration put on by the Society that features crafts, demonstrations, rope making and museum tours.
The museum means a tremendous amount to Glen Ellyn, as it helped to solidify the beginnings of the Village, and even more to the Society, whose initial purpose for forming in 1969 was to renovate and furnish the building in such a way that would represent Village history.
"With this, we make history come alive, and that's kind of our tagline. " said Glen Ellyn Historical Society Director Jan Langford, gazing around the Stacy's Tavern Museum dining room. "I'm so grateful for it and the people who worked to preserve this."
Opened in 1846 by Moses Stacy and his wife, Joann, the modest, two-story inn slept as many as 50 visitors at once, some of them crammed on its beds, but most of them supine on the floor.
Glen Ellyn kids may remember field trips to Stacy's Tavern, but the museum periodically receives the kind of visitors they did on a recent Wednesday: two teens from Norway.
Jenny Dehli, 20, and Cathrine Johannesen, 19, sauntered into Stacy's Tavern, brought by Dehli's grandma, Carol Jones, 86, of Wheaton, who says she has gone to Stacy's Tavern several times and "thought it would be good for the girls to see the American version of the 1840s."
Dehli and Johannesen, both from Oslo, Norway, trailed behind volunteer Earlene Merrick as she ushered the visitors to the Ladies' Parlor. They stepped on history as they walked, as the floorboards are original to the inn, said Merrick. They even carry deeper imprints on the floorboard paint where hundreds of 19th Century travelers' feet trod.
The exterior planks of the inn originated as logs hauled from Moses Stacy's property and were cut at a place called Gary's Mill on the DuPage River. The decor, which includes a black horsehair sofa, portraits of the Stacy's friends—the austere-looking Churchills— as well as a 1850s bedspread and a stitching sampler done by 8-year-old Mary Jane Fish, is not original to the house but period accurate, with many pieces carrying historic Glen Ellyn value.
Merrick guides the party through the Ladies Parlor, with its Melodeon and tea set meant to entertain the women, before ushering the visitors to the Tap Room, which served as the men's domain. There, men played checkers with corncob and enjoyed after-meal drinks.
The tour continued into the kitchen, which is dominated by a large black stove with separate compartments for boiling water and a cistern of soup. The room also contained a butter churn.
"You're great-great-great grandmother had one of those," Jones told her granddaughter with delight, pointing to the churn.
The tour continued into the dining area, which features an indoor well and a view of the outhouse.
Another Historical Society volunteer, Pauline Franks, met the group upstairs, where she showed them Moses and Joann Stacy's bedroom, which strategically overlooked the outdoor entranceway so the Stacys could ready themselves for latecomers to the inn.
Two neighboring guest rooms were meant for women and men—as female and male boarders slept separately— and both held wash basins and discreetly, chamber pots.
The last room at the Tavern belonged to the Stacy sons, Philo and Kimball, and contained a stash of books and a pouch of marbles.
As they exited Stacy's Tavern, both Dehli and Johannesen said they found the inn interesting, adding that it didn't seem much different from what they knew of 19th Century Norwegian life.
Jones said that because the Historical Society "reconstructs how it was, it gets very personal. You can get a real sense of how they lived."
Tavern Day runs from 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Stacy's Tavern Museum Campus. Tours of Stacy's Tavern Museum are regularly given from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Suggested admission is $2 for kids and $5 for adults.