Night 3 of Road Trip in Sainte Genevieve, MO
After staying in a big city hotel the night before, it was a treat to be in an old "house" in a tiny (and the oldest) town west of the Mississippi.
Don and I didn't even mind lugging our stuff up to the third floor. We were just glad they had stairs at all.
Originally, when Francois Valle II built this home in the 1790's, there was only a ladder to the third floor. Stairs were built after the Civil War and some ladder/steps still lead up to the rooftop Widow's Watch.
Some floors have been replaced, but many areas still have the original wood. I loved all the creaks in the smooth, worn boards.
The Quilt Room
There are 9 guest rooms at the hotel, but we were the only guests during our stay. Our room, The Quilt Room was appropriately named. (I counted 20)
It also had a nearly 200 year old "4-poster cannon ball bed" which was surprisinly comfy. I loved the slant-y ceilings (more than Don who is tall) and dormer window. Six dormers were added in 1870 to make the third floor more useable.
I'm a big window person, especially when they are open, letting in a warm, fall breeze. I'm always a little excited to look out and see what surprises I might find. The
first window was beside 2 comfy chairs and a plate with chocolate chip cookies. The view revealed a church steeple and some evening clouds.
There was a nice view of the back garden from the window beside the tub. I'm not sure we can call that a bathroom, though. The short, wood screen beside our bed hardly blocked off the dormer area with its collection of bathing features.
It's good Don and I have been married 35 years or we would have done more cringing than laughing at the sight of our unhide-able green toilet and the claw footed tub.
Something Not Funny at All
For some reason the whimsically painted claw footed tub was hidden behind a quilted skirt. I flipped up the cover, not to get a closer look at the animals, but to peer at the floor underneath with my cell phone light. Sure enough, there was an iron ring, just as we had recently learned.
Our hosts Mike and Cathy confirmed that this was a part of chaining system used when the Valle's slaves were housed in the attic during the winter. It was sobering and sad to imagine this piece of history. For a while Don and I didn't even know how to react to that knowledge...
Mike and Cathy made it clear we were welcome to enjoy the common areas in the downstairs. The first parlor had a pump organ and baby grand piano and an on-going quilt project that guests were encouraged to sign.
The Pool Room
We were invited to take off the cover and play pool on the classic 9-foot standard pool table built in 1875. The Southern was evidenlty the first pool hall west of the Mississippi to be issued a pool hall license in 1812.
Saloon and Dining Room
The dining room was where breakfast would be served in the morning. It was next to the saloon with parlor games and swinging saloon doors.
After the house officially became a hotel in 1805, that room really had been a saloon. Women weren't allowed to stay in the hotel because they would have to pass through the saloon to get to the rooms.
Cathy served us quite a breakfast in the morning. Butterscotch and chocolate treats, before we even had our plate of fruit, sausage, muffin and sweet breakfast dish that tasted like bread pudding!
She was wise enough to leave us alone a bit, but later when Don and I had lots of questions for both Cathy and Mike, they spent nearly an hour filling us in on all the mysteries of the Mississippi River and the area that we had wondered about.
Enjoying More Morning
I couldn't get over how quiet and peaceful it was. For some reason I had expected lots of tourists in this small town.
I enjoyed some coffee on the porch...
...and I took a walk where I spotted dried cornfields and cozy cottages and even a horse drawn wagon.
Cathy gave us hugs and this small wrapped goodie with candies. So obviously we will remember the hospitality. Being the only guests could have been awkward, but Mike and Cathy seemed to know where to draw the line. They were just friendly enough.
But there is a piece of me that won't let go of that image in my head, of our room on the third floor and who once slept there. I feel guilty when I picture us sleeping in a warm bed... without a chain. I won't ever forget.
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!