Back September 11, 2019
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Small Town, Big Heart | The H.A. Boyd Guest Room

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“Small town, BIG heart.”

I read this aloud as I stood in the heart of historic downtown Morrison. The light pole banners display powerful and descriptive words that describe this engaging small town. 

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The Space

The H.A. Boyd Guest Room is located on the upper level of a completely restored 1892 brick building that sits in the heart of Morrison’s National Main Street Historic District. The restoration of the building was a labor of love and is filled with history and character. It’s a true example of recent and historic craftsmanship. Much of the original cabinetry still exists in the building, but some major updates were installed in the space. The plumbing, electrical, new bathroom floor tile, and re-plastering the walls are all new.

The Inspiration

Kelly West and her husband, Josh West, met in Portland, Oregon. Kelly is originally from Alaska while Josh grew up in Morrison. They decided to move back to Morrison to start a family in a smaller town. Shortly after moving, they visited the property and after peeling back a few layers fell in love with the history and potential of what it could become.

“Coming from Portland, it seemed unfathomable that we could afford to buy a Victorian commercial building that was in decent shape. I think we brought fresh eyes to a property that had been on the market for years.”

Kelly’s father-in-law, George West, handcrafted the bathroom mirror, coat rack, basketweave chairs, kitchen island, laptop bar, and countertops. He harvested and milled all the cherry wood for the shelving from his property just north of town. Her husband, along with his father, removed many layers of carpet, linoleum, glue, and paint – much of it with only a hand scrapper. Most of the cabinetry is original along with the beautiful bay window and clawfoot tub.

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The Amenities – a mix of vintage and modern

The Airbnb space includes a full kitchen, washer/dryer, luxurious queen bed, Roku Smart TV, and high-speed wi-fi. The 800 sq foot apartment includes original Douglas Fir flooring, 10 foot high ceilings, pocket doors, claw-foot tub, custom cabinets, and an island made from cherry wood. Perched above an art gallery, this is the perfect clean and quiet retreat for work or leisure.

They began their renovation with the maple floors of the downstairs, then turned their focus to the upstairs apartment. They were originally going to make small improvements and rent the space out monthly, but during the renovations, they started a long list of other improvements. They worried a full-time renter would not respect the history of the space and wanted to open up an option for travelers to experience the space instead. Turning it into a Guest Room/Airbnb made the most sense to Kelly who has a background in the hospitality industry. They are now able to provide a unique guest experience while adding to the viability of historic downtown Morrison.

The attention to detail and care for aesthetics is incredible. Kelly made the brass light fixtures that glow above the island and kitchen sink and was in charge of the design of the space. She wanted to keep the original character of the building while still providing modern conveniences. She made every effort to achieve a “modern Victorian” look. At the turn of the century, the space was a gentlemen’s clothing store and was Kelly’s main inspiration when designing the space. Clean and tailored sensibility with soft touches gives the space a vintage and luxurious feel. The green dresser is an original piece from the building. You can still see the partition in the drawers that separated the men’s shirts and pants. The guest closet hangers were also once used in the men’s clothing store.

It is the perfect collection of vintage and modern furnishings. The majority of the furniture is a mix of old finds and pieces handed down from their family.

COST: The H.A. Boyd Guest Room is rented through Airbnb (see link below) for $75 a night plus taxes and fees.

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A love for Art

Morrison has a large group of artists and a surrounding community that pride themselves on their art programs. In the spring of 2017, the Morrison Area Development Corporation organized a meeting with local artists, art educators, and art lovers to explore establishing a gallery and art education center in downtown Morrison. Kelly and Josh bought the building and created the home of Loft 112.

Loft 112 (link below) features work by 57 local artists. It has a formal partnership with Woodland Arts Academy of Sterling to provide art classes and private music lessons in Morrison. The storefront, located in the downstairs space, has large glass windows and wood shelving that display the artisan’s work.

Contact information

The H.A. Boyd Guest Room
112 E Main St.
Morrison, IL 61270
(815) 499-4885

Website (Airbnb)

Loft 112 (Art Gallery)
112 E Main St, Morrison, IL 61270
(815) 772-4005

Website

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