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New Rose House gives Du Quoin's grand old lady another life

  • Rose House, gussied up for its recent debut.

    Rose House, gussied up for its recent debut.
    Courtesy of Kelly and Jason Rose

  • Kelly and Jason Rose stand with Jake on the front porch. Kelly's father, Steve Toler holds baby Ava.

    Kelly and Jason Rose stand with Jake on the front porch. Kelly's father, Steve Toler holds baby Ava.
    Renee Trappe photo

  • The house at 104 S. Line St., sometime in the early 20th century.

    The house at 104 S. Line St., sometime in the early 20th century.
    Courtesy of Kelly and Jason Rose

  • The house at the time the Morgans took it over, looking dreary after being in an abandoned state for years.

    The house at the time the Morgans took it over, looking dreary after being in an abandoned state for years.
    Courtesy of Kelly and Jason Ros

  • Kelly and Jason run a little boutique inside Rose House named for their daughter Olivia, with an eclectic collection of clothing, bath products, gifts, accessories and health and beauty products.

    Kelly and Jason run a little boutique inside Rose House named for their daughter Olivia, with an eclectic collection of clothing, bath products, gifts, accessories and health and beauty products.
    Renee Trappe photo

  • Meema's banana nut bread recipe, found tucked into a corner of the attic.

    Meema's banana nut bread recipe, found tucked into a corner of the attic.
    Courtesy of Kelly and Jason Ros

 
By Renee Trappe
rtrappe@localsouthernnews.com
updated: 7/21/2021 12:43 PM

It's hard to know what the orphans from 1908 would think of the Du Quoin Receiving Home now.

Maybe they'd think, it's never looked better.

That is the intention of Jason and Kelly Rose, who are the latest owners of the elegant building set back from Line Avenue in Du Quoin that was known for most of 35 years as Francie's Inn. Today, after 42 days of intensive renovations to the common areas and the guest rooms, the Roses are hosting guests in Du Quoin for the NubAbility sports camp. They have 1,500 followers on Facebook and a solid schedule of events and guests coming up.

Kelly Rose, a Du Quoin native, said they took the breakfast out of bed and breakfast ("I don't cook") and instead they offer guests a nice assortment of fresh fruit, and pastries from Marks Bakery in the mornings. The common area is bright and airy, with freshly finished wood floors and walls full of windows that look out on the lawns and porch.

Inside, the space is like a living history of the house and the city of Du Quoin, with rare photos and bric-a-brac they found in the attic and even tucked into the walls. A recipe for Meema's banana nut bread, dated 1949. Pictures of the Receiving Home's children at Christmas. Children lined up in front of McElroy School, circa 1908. Old grammar books, with the owners' names lovingly printed inside.

But instead of feeling like a museum, Rose House is warm. Small tables invite guests to sit by themselves over coffee and pastry, but close enough to engage in conversation with other guests.

"Since the day we bought the house, we have been looking into its history," Kelly says, with the idea of embracing the past instead of whitewashing it away. "Anything original we find, we keep." She gently touches an old doorknob that looks original, and contemplates how many coats of paint they'll have to remove to get to the metal.

The Du Quoin Receiving Home was built by the Rev. Martin Van Arsdale and his wife in 1908 -- and even for its time it was less austere than other institutions of its ilk. In the 1880s Van Arsdale was instrumental in starting the Illinois Children's Home and Aid Society, and he and his wife were taking into their home as many children as they could manage, to get them ready for adoption. Eventually it became too much, and with the help of the Aurora, Illinois city council, the Van Arsdales built the first receiving home there in 1885. Other receiving homes followed -- including in Shelbyville, Rantoul and Mount Vernon. The Du Quoin home opened in 1896.

The Du Quoin home was rebuilt in 1907 into the building we know today, and reoccupied in 1908. Separate staircases were incorporated for boys and girls, to keep them apart as much as possible. A sidewalk leading up to the house from the street was mysteriously taken out at some point -- Kelly says the legend is that the girls could play on one side of the walk while the boys had to stay on the other.

It continued in its mission until 1946 when it was reportedly no longer needed; and became a veterans, or Old Soldiers Home.

When Tom and Francie Morgan bought the place in 1986 it had been abandoned for a number of years. The Morgans threw themselves into rehabbing the old home into a bed and breakfast, invoking the best of the period and building a strong business reputation. When Debra and Roland Scheller purchased the inn in 2004, they added a 5-star dining experience to Francie's Inn's other charms.

Jason and Kelly Rose were raising a small son in Arizona, when personal tragedy -- the illness and death of their baby daughter, Olivia -- made them long to be closer to family. Jason, Kelly and young Jake returned to Du Quoin and bought a small house on the east side. When Kelly got pregnant with daughter Ava, they started casting about for a larger place to live. Francie's Inn was available, and a new dream took shape. Kelly was already a 12-year veteran of the Marriott hotel chain and Jason had been planning events for more than 20 years. It seemed right to put those skills to use in their own venture.

Today, Kelly and Jason are delighted and grateful with the community's response. People stop in to wish them well, or share a story about their connection to the building. Moreover, residents are finding ways to help the business along, by booking family into Rose House when they come to town for family reunions, weddings or class reunions. The Du Quoin Garden Club has a meeting coming up inside Rose House, and Jason and Kelly say this is what they want the Du Quoin community to know them for.

Jason, who grew up in Denver and lived in Phoenix is finding small town life enjoyable, and fulfilling. "Kelly grew up here and had the same friends from kindergarten through high school," he said. "Thanks what we want for Jake."

Jason and Kelly are touched that people stop by with their stories, even bringing cookies and fruit,

"It's so wonderful here," Jason marvels.

"Every day since we've been here, someone has just stopped in," Kelly adds.

Some of them are former servers or housekeepers who worked for Francie's Inn, Jason said. He adds that their stories help fill in the gaps in the Roses' knowledge about their new home.

• Find Rose House on Facebook for reservations, plus photos of cool stuff they found at the property.

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