The Richmond Register

November 27, 2012

Boone Tavern/Churchill Weavers revisited

By Fred Engle
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — Dr. Grise and I recently had an opportunity to go to the new Berea Artisan’s Center right off of Exit 77 of Interstate 75 as part of a process to promote our new book of articles from Madison’s Heritage columns.

My recent return to Berea led me to revisit this column from several years ago on landmarks of Berea after visiting this new landmark.

Boone Tavern in Berea reopened several years ago after extensive remodeling. This famous landmark is named for Daniel Boone and is located in downtown Berea, along Boone’s historic wilderness trail from Cumberland Gap to Fort Boonesborough.

Owned and operated by Berea College, the hotel opened in 1909 and was originally constructed to provide housing for college visitors.

New York architects Cady and See designed the original Colonial Revival style building.  Its two entrances are covered by a two-story portico with Ionic columns. Much of the furniture and drapery was made by students at the college. 

There is a dining room, which provides excellent food for individuals or groups. One of the chefs, Richard Hougen, authored a well-known cookbook, “Look No Further.”

Although called a tavern, no liquor is served, since the city of Berea is dry. However, voters recently passed referendum that allows hotel/restaurants in historic buildings to sell drinks. But, the college’s trustees would have to approve the sale of alcohol at the tavern.

Berea College used to produce and sell to the public eggs, milk and bread. The school also once owned the Berea Citizen, the town’s weekly newspaper.

Boone Tavern is a major draw of tourists traveling north and south on I-75.

My information on Churchill Weavers comes from Lavinia Kubiak’s book “Madison County Rediscovered.” The company was established by Carroll and Eleanor Churchill in 1921. Mr. Churchill was an engineer and former missionary to India, and later chair of the physics department at Berea College.

He invented a new fly-shuttle loom, which became the basis of his hand-weaving industry. His wife designed and marketed the products, selling them across America.  Special local sales were widely attended, and tours of the large building, with numerous skilled ladies operating the looms, were available. 

After Mr. Churchill died, the factory was sold several times and now sits empty. The city of Berea recently turned down an offer to take over the property.  Woven products made in Ohio are still marketed under the name Churchill Weavers . . . but the original blankets and throws were crafted here in Madison County.  If you have one squirreled away in a cedar chest, get it out now that the weather is turning colder and snuggle up and display it proudly!

PUBLICATION NOTE:  Readers are reminded that a compilation of some 60 Richmond Register articles from over the last 40 years written by Dr. Grise and myself are now available in the paperback book “Madison’s Heritage Rediscovered.”

Combined with relevant photographs selected from Eastern’s Archives by my granddaughter, Kathryn Engle, who edited the volume, this book is available for $19.99 plus tax. Autographed copies may be found at the Richmond tourism office (Irvinton) on Lancaster Avenue, Clearsight Optometry and Baldwin CPAs on Main Street in Richmond. 

Autographed copies are also available by calling Kathryn Engle at 893-0947 or 623-1150.
These books make excellent birthday or Christmas gifts for family or friends.