Stacy’s Tavern Museum, located in Glen Ellyn was built in 1846 and immediately proved that “if you build it, they will come.” The tavern was known by several names, including the “Farmer’s Tavern” and the “Halfway House.” Among those stopping for a night of comfort were farmers traveling to market in Chicago, settlers and land seekers heading farther west, stagecoach “commuters” and even native Americans.
Today, thanks to the modern automobile and a system of sleek, orderly highways, we can travel in comfort from Galena, Illinois to the great windy city of Chicago in less than three hours. But this wasn’t always the case.
In the days when horse-drawn wagons were kicking up dirt, the trip could take up to thirty bumpy hours, assuming the horses felt fine, the wheels hadn’t broken, and robbers stayed away.
Of course, no one desired a nonstop thirty hour journey, and thus, the concept of a wayside inn was born.
Moses Stacy and his family were among the countless settlers pouring into Northern Illinois in the 1830s, and he quickly recognized an opportunity to provide shelter and comfort to road weary travelers passing through his new home city, Glen Ellyn.
Stacy decided to build a new structure in a prime location where he could provide a home for his family and a resting place for the masses – and make a living doing it.
While we may think of a tavern as a place for drinking, the real draws of Stacy’s Tavern were rest, relaxation, safety, and food. In addition to receiving two hearty meals prepared on Mrs. Stacy’s newfangled cast iron stove, guests received fresh water for washing, a bed for sleeping, and hay and water for their exhausted horses – all for half a dollar. Mingling and visiting with other travelers over card games and checkers added to the comforts of an overnight stay.
The tavern became so busy that travelers often shared beds in large sleeping rooms separated by gender, with up to five guests sharing a single bed. Accounts from the Stacy family also record occasions when overcrowded conditions relegated some guests to sleeping on the floor.
Today, as we travel along the busy byways of Northern Illinois, we have a wonderful opportunity to slow down, water our horses, and visit Stacy’s Tavern Museum at its original location. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum has been lovingly restored and offers a fascinating one hour docent tour organized by the local historical society.
The museum is open from April through December and tours must be arranged in advance by calling 630-469-1867 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.