5 mile house, 170 year legacy

Our Town 2019 - Charleston

CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) — 5 miles from the courthouse sits one of the oldest properties in Coles County, if not the oldest.

People who care for it say it’s a wonder it survived the times.

We know the house was built around the 1840s, and it’s had at least 20 different owners.

But volunteers with the 5 mile house say who knows what else was here, and what went on that we didn’t know about.

The small, white house might not look like anything special from the outside…but step through the door, and you’ll be surrounded by an abundance of history.

“It was a place where there were a lot of important things done for people passing by.”

Richard Hummel

“It’s been a stagecoach stop, it’s been a tavern, it’s been an antique shop…lots of different owners,” added Richard’s wife, Kathy Hummel.

Richard and Kathy Hummel are invested in the future of an already 170-year-old building.

They’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to uncover the mysteries surrounding the 5 Mile House.

“Who knows what legal and illegal things might have gone on here over the years, but somehow it survived. Somehow, no one ever came up with the idea of knocking it down and doing something else,” said Richard Hummel.

“It was slated for demolition for a gas station on this corner, and you can see from the traffic, it probably would have been pretty profitable. But a group got together in 1998 to save the 5 mile house,” said Kathy Hummel.

They did that by raising about $200,000 dollars.

Now, it’s a place for learning.

Fourth graders come here every year to learn how a spinning wheel works, or how an open hearth met many needs of the family.

“It shows people how hard life used to be, and what they actually did and had to go through to put a meal on the table. It’s a lot of work,” said Gail Casey.

Sometimes, their teaching takes the shape of an educated guess.

“One of the frustrating things is, we have pictures, but we don’t even have old pictures of the house, but we don’t have any pictures of out buildings from back in the day. So we can’t be sure what other buildings were here,” said Richard Hummel.

That’s just one more reason they want to make sure this building stays of interest, and in tact, in our town Charleston.

The house was believed to be a blacksmith shop at one point.

That’s why volunteers are working on building a barn and blacksmith shop right now, next to the 5 Mile House.

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