Monday, February 27, 2006

Late Winter / Early Spring Book Signings

As the weather keeps getting warmer there seems to be more and more opportunities for book signings and presentations.

Saturday, March 4
Science Center of Southern Illinois, University Mall in Carbondale from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Book signing while the store conducts a major sale to reduce inventory before they move to a new location.

Sunday, March 12
The Reitz Home in downtown Evansville, Indiana at 224 S. E. First St. at 2 p.m. I will be doing a 45-minute presentation about the history of the Old Slave House and the book.

Saturday, April 1
Southwest Indiana Book Expo at the Scales Lake Pavilion (800 W Tennyson Rd, Boonville, Indiana) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sponsored by the Warrick County Historical Society.

Old Mansion Transforms Into New B & B

Tourism and historic preservation are mixing in the development of the 1913-era Wall Manor into a new bed and breakfast inn for Mound City and Pulaski County.

The Southern Illinoisan has Dixie Terry's story in today's issue. The inn's website is

Kudos to new owners Don and Robin Stacy for their work and investment into this project as well as to the new day-to-day innkeepers Jim and Rita Barger.

Tourism on the west side of Southern Illinois seems to be taking off south of Route 13 with the private sector, particularly the local wine industry leading the way. It's good to see that tourism growth spread south as well.

Wall Manor will be a nice complement to the still fairly new Grand Chain Lodge further up the Ohio in eastern Pulaski County.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mine Wars Interview Online

Thanks go out to David Purcell for sending me a link to an online transcript of a 1972 interview with his grandfather Henson Purcell of West Frankfort.

The Purcell was a retired newspaperman who recalled the violence of not only the gang wars of Charlie Birger and the Shelton Gang in the 1920s, but the more-overshadowed, and actually deadlier clashes between the United Mine Workers of America and the Progressive Mine Workers of America in the 1930s.

I'm not up fully on the UMWA and PMWA fully other than I often heard hushed whispers of events while reporting myself in Harrisburg in the 1990s. The last PMWA-organized mine (Saraha) wrapped up operations during my tenure at the Daily Register.

Purcell's interview starts with an overview of the struggle with a particular focus on the Battle of Mulkeytown in Franklin County.

It's a good read. There's a link to it from the Events page here at

Friday, February 03, 2006

Bidding Begins for Old Slave House work

The state is moving forward with the Old Slave House project announced last week.

The Capital Development Board, which oversees state construction projects, advertised for yesterday. The Professional Services Bulletin provides the details:

The scope of work provides for planning and beginning the renovation of the Crenshaw House, including a Historic Structures Report which will provide a description and prioritization of the restoration work to be done. The initial work will focus on making the building weather-tight. This may include roof replacement/repair, restoring windows, siding, flashings and weather seals. The scope of work also provides for the abatement of asbestos containing materials and lead.

The selected firm will be notified of the time and place for the orientation meeting by the contract executive or the project manager. The meeting shall be attended by the firm’s project manager, consultants and a person authorized to make scheduling and financial commitments for the firm.

Finally, it's clear just how much the $150,000 project will cover. Not only do we get the historic structures report, but also the basic repairs hinted at during the news conference.

What's left for future projects will be construction of any visitor services facilities (i.e. bathrooms and the such) as well as the big project of restoration, which could come down the road even after a site is opened.

From another source I found out that there is some discussion of IHPA trying to get at least one staffer to split time between the various IHPA sites in southeastern Illinois.

The good news still is the project is real and moving forward. Bids are due in two weeks on Feb. 16 and the agency will meet to select the winner at their April meeting.