The Hagee House


Residence and Hotel of James M. Hagee - Hillsboro Illinois
Residence and Hotel of James M. Hagee - Hillsboro Illinois

It was 100 years ago that the second hotel In Hillsboro, a two-story frame structure, was sawed into three separate sections.


Carpenters converted the parts into three houses, which were moved from the site on East Seward St. at Courthouse Square to make way for the new brick building, the Hotel Hillsboro.


What is interesting to me is that two of the wood structures continue to be used. One has been razed.

First known as the Hagee House, then the City Hotel, was erected in the Civil War time.
First known as the Hagee House, then the City Hotel, was erected in the Civil War time.

First known as the Hagee House, then the City Hotel, was erected in the Civil War time. A local corporation of businessmen purchased the City Hotel with the Intent of having It divided.


At the time of dismantlement, carpenters added siding to the open ends.


My grandfather, C.W. Bliss, bought the first section and had It moved to 530 W. Summer St. as the home for is son-In-law, Dr. Homer Seymour and wife, Bert.


For many recent years that house has been occupied by Jack and Emma Cress.

530 W. Summer Street - Hillsboro Illinois
530 W. Summer Street - Hillsboro Illinois

The second section was moved to 719 Jefferson St. recently vacated by the Kuhnke family.

719 Jefferson Street - Hillsboro Illinois
719 Jefferson Street - Hillsboro Illinois

The third section was moved to 423 W. Tremont St. and was the home for many years of the Martin Bonadurer family. It was razed just a few years ago after being unoccupied and in disrepair for quite some time.

423 W Tremont Street - Hillsboro Illinois
423 W Tremont Street - Hillsboro Illinois

Each of the houses had long hallways upstairs with bedrooms off to the sides.


The year after the frame hotel was cut apart and moved, a two-story brick hotel known as Hotel Hillsboro, was erected on the site of the frame hotel east of the courthouse.

The "Hillsboro" Hotel - Now the Red Rooster Inn
The "Hillsboro" Hotel - Now the Red Rooster Inn

Since that original brick structure was built, two additions have been added to increase the number of rooms and some apartments. In 1912, the hotel building was sold to the Brinton family, who operated the business for 70 years.


During her management of the business, the late Virginia (Brinton) Imle was considered the "Hostess of Hillsboro” as she graciously welcomed dinner guests and overnight patrons from all parts of the country.

The old McDavid barn.
The old McDavid barn became the "barn room" at the Red Rooster Inn.

In 1965, a portion of the basement was renovated into a British style pub, and the hotel and was renamed Red Rooster Inn. One of the dining rooms. the Barn Room, was constructed using siding from a barn on Washington St. in back of the J. K. McDavid house, which was located on the site now occupied by CVS Pharmacy.


The Red Rooster Inn was purchased in 1986 by Earl and Bert McWilliams, Tom and Mary Frances Paulding. The two couples have put their heart, soul (and lots of bucks) into maintaining this historic structure and preserving Its unique charm.


The hotel will celebrate Its 100th anniversary next year.


For decades, political parties had their major gatherings at the hotel. I remember attending receptions there for governors, U.S. senators and representatives, State legislators and the central committees of both the Montgomery County Democrats and Republicans.


Among the political bigwigs who campaigned and greeted constituents at the hotel were Adlai Stevenson, Paul Simon, Paul Powell, Michael Howlett, Alan Dixon, Paul Findley, Dan Walker, Dick Durbin and others I can't recall.


The hotel has served as the meeting place for local service organizations, community and family dinners. Class reunions, women's cultural groups, as well as music and social gatherings.


Some of the dining services have been curtailed in recent years for lack of patronage, but all of the hotel rooms and apartments are fully occupied.


The Red Rooster Inn. in the heart of Hillsboro, continues to be a community treasure we hope will survive and thrive into Its second century.


A Closer Look

By: Bob Bliss

Published by: The Montgomery News in 2002

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