Ye Olde Landmark Inn II

A Brief History of Chester and Ye Olde Landmark Inn


    The humble beginnings of the river town of Chester began on September13, 1816, when John McFerron purchased a 47 acre tract of land from the government and built a cabin on the riverfront.  On October 8, 1824, he sold it to John Griffith for $200.00.  Griffith then sold it to Thomas Mather and James L. Lamb for $12.00 on June 29, 1829

    On May 1, 1824, John McFerron purchased an additional 89 acre tract on the riverfront from the government.  He sold it to Jacob Meyer of Kaskaskia on July 7, 1829, for $177.86.  Mr. Meyer then sold this land to Samuel Smith for $100.00 on March 10, 1830.  Two days after he bought it, Samuel Smith sold this land to Thomas Mather & James Lamb & Co.  It is this land that became the site of the town of Chester.

    13 Years after McFerron purchased the first tract of land, Samuel Smith was finally credited with the founding of Chester.  He built a home in the summer of 1829 on lot 3 of the original town, on Water Street, halfway between Wall & Ferry Streets.  He established a ferry, and began the construction of a mill, which he never completed.  He ran a hotel and ferried people across the river in a flatboat.  Smith named the town “Chester” in honor of his wife, Jane, who was a native of Chester, England.

    By 1838, there were five stores, three groceries, one tavern, one physician, two ministers, four warehouses, one steam saw & grist mill, one castor oil factory and 280 inhabitants.  We speculate that the stone part of the Landmark may have been constructed around this time under the ownership of Thomas Mather, and that it may have been one of the stores or warehouses.

    In 1892 a second story was added to the building where the Landmark stands.  It was then called St. Louis Flats and was used as an apartment building for many years.  St. Louis Flats contained at least 4 apartments on the second floor.  On December 3rd, 1945 the St. Louis Flats were sold and it became the Landmark Inn.  After many years and a major legal battle with the railroad the Landmark changed owners on several occasions.

    On January 8, 1979 the Landmark was sold to Dave and Bonnie Wright and Clifford (Doc) Wright.  It had been closed for several years and they reopened it as a bar and restaurant named Ye Olde Landmark Inn.   In 1981, the southwest corner was damaged by a tornado.  While repairing it, Dave and Doc made major renovations to the interior: adding the tongue and groove ceilings, the brass fireplace, and the foyer leading to the second floor.  Dave built the water wheel outside.  Doc’s artistic skills produced the stained glass Landmark paddle boat picture and the Anheuser Busch window.  They also added memorabilia from the area: the mirrored back bar on the stone wall came from Piosik’s Tavern, the piano strings and frame from the old Bremen Tavern pews from an old church in Bremen were used for seating.  Ye Olde Landmark Inn became home to the “salad boat”, a canoe used as a salad bar.  The wooden man that still stands watch on the first floor was made by a Homelite chainsaw representative at one of the first Popeye picnics out of an English Coffee tree from Don Stallman’s property.

    In the mid 1980’s this became “The Party Place to be on the Mississippi” with live bands and A DJ three nights a week.  After several years the kitchen was opened with dining downstairs initially.  In 1990, the second floor was renovated and became the Captain’s Table Restaurant.  The inside walls were removed, creating a dining room seating 90 and a private room seating 40.  The windows were replaced and window frames were created to match the original woodwork.

    Some people say the old building is haunted; previous and current owners as well as employees have experienced various things.  Many of them have heard footsteps on the second and third floors; some of them have heard whispered voices.  One thing is for sure, though, this old building has seen many things in its 180+ years, and it has many stories to tell.  So, enjoy your meal and your visit here.  Relax, reflect, take a step back in time, as you gaze at the riverfront and imagine the hustle and bustle of a bygone era and wonder about the secrets this old building may have.

Ye Olde Landmark Inn II
111 Ferry Street
Chester, IL 62233