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The Old Ely Mansion

By Homer F. Ely, Great-grandson of Isaac Ely. Transcription may contain typos.

     About six or eight miles on Illinois State Route #16 east of Jerseyville, stands the home built by Isaac Ely and his bride, Mary Christopher, in 1850 and it still stands solid as a rock. Having married in 1848, they took their honeymoon by stagecoach to Chicago where they secured the services of a good architect and arranged for all the materials for building the house and outbuildings which were completed in 1850, making arrangements, too, for all these materials to be shipped to Jerseyville.
     I believe there were originally fourteen rooms but fire destroyed the very back of the house in 1929 or thereabouts and was never rebuilt. Also, the summer kitchen has been made into a garage a short distance from its original position and turned 45 degrees.
     [A] lithograph shows the barn without a cupola! But there was one and my father carved his initials in it. His parents and family lived there for ten years after the older Elys moved to Jerseyville after retirement. My father started school nearby—the neighborhood was called “Paradise.”
     The total cost of this lovely home was $5,000 including two marble fireplaces imported from France, facing each other at the front of the house which included a double parlor with a hall and open winding stairway between the two parlors.
     The front door is of special interest. The family had revisited New Jersey a few years before the wedding and Isaac was watching workmen repairing the Old Tennant Church they had attended near Trenton. One particular board with a lovely grain took his eye so he brought it home and made a panel in the center of the front door with it-still there.
     The house still stands but is stripped of its Victorian bric-a-brac when aluminuym siding was put on it some years ago, and all the trees are gone so it looks quite stark and naked today, although is seemingly solid as a rock. It has changed hands very few times. When the Isaac Ely Estate was settled it was sold to a Mr. Barnet whose daughter married Grover Pearce and they acquired it and lived in it many years. Then one of the Pearce girls married a Lahr from Piasa and do not know for sure whether or not they are still living there—perhaps one of their offspring is!

Contributed by Marty Crull and his volunteers.

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