Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spire comes back home

There was a lot of activity at 344 Fremont Street today, when the spire reclaimed its rightful place atop a peak on the former Rachford family home, now the location of Royal Victorian Manor (under renovation). The spire was removed before the family home was sold in about 1988, and today Marty Rachford restored it at the top of the front of the house.

The Rachford family lived in the home from the early 1960s until about 1988, when Kelly Frank purchased it. The house attracted national prominence as the inn in the movie, Groundhog Day, and later more attention when it was offered for sale on

There was another owner after Kelly, and then the home was purchased by Marshall and Debra Smith. And then Everton and Karla Martin bought it with plans to remodel it into the Royal Victorian Manor, and that's exactly what they are doing.

Mr. Rachford told me today that the house was originally built for Judge Charles P. Barnes, who was a territorial judge. He also said there is a little mound on the floor of the widow's peak where a telephone pole had been cut off. Judge Barnes had had the pole installed inside the house and run up through the widow's peak, so that the flag on his flagpole would be higher than the flag on the courthouse on the Square. How's that for a little history?

Everton and Karla, innkeepers for the new bed-and-breakfast, hope to have enough of the interior work done by Groundhog Day 2010 that visitors can tour the house. And then they will open for business a little later in the year.
Photos - Marty Rachford with the newly-placed spire (center).
Marty Rachford with the spire before placing it; being interviewed and photographed for a Chicago Tribune article.

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