Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Benton, IL: Beatles Southern Illinois Connection

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Thursday May 8, 1997
Reported by Andrew Bedell

To pull up at the curb and look at the outside of 113 McCann, you wouldn't think it was particularly interesting. Just a tidy 1940s-style bungalow set on a whole street of tidy 1940s-style bungalows. But cross the threshold and you've fallen back to 1963, into a home where someone is indulging a major Beatles fixation.

Three Benton couples got together and bought Louise Harrison Caldwell's former home in 1995, after Beatles historian and fan Robert Bartel guided an all-out effort to save it from certain demolition.

Today, the house where the "Quiet Beatle" slept is A Hard Days Nite B&B, operated by the investors: Cindy and Scott Rice, Daryl and Jim Chady and Connie and Dorothy Schultz.

Connie Schultz, who lives across the street from the house with his wife, Dorothy, says the rehab of the house has taken a "good part of two years." Virtually everything in the home is circa 1963: the furniture, the kitchen, the light fixtures, a virtually new console hi-fi.

Even without all the Beatles memorabilia, you could experience a major flashback to your parents' or grandparents' Kennedy-era decor. A visitor half expects meat loaf, canned peas and a Jell-O mold to magically appear on the kitchen table.

It could be an interesting place to stay, for the kitschy aspect alone, but most people visit to soak up the George Harrison/Beatles aura. Sleep in the room where George slept, watch TV in the living room where George watched his favorite show, "Hootenanny." You can even sit on the couch where George reportedly composed the melody to "Daytripper."

Many items from Bob Bartel's extensive mop-top collection decorate the home, including autographed pictures, records, posters, books and Beatleboots. Heady stuff for Beatles fans.

The four bedrooms all have private, new baths that rival those found in nicer hotels. There's even a TV with a VCR in each room.

"We've had people from all over stay here," says Schultz. "Our first guests were one of those Beatles look-alike bands." The rates are what you would pay in other B&Bs, typically $ 60 to $ 65 a night, with the continental breakfast.

A Hard Days Nite B&B is approximately a two-hour drive from St. Louis. Take Interstate 64 east to Interstate 57 south near Mt. Vernon, Ill. The Benton exit is approximately 15 miles south on Interstate 57. If you need directions once in Benton, Connie warns that people don't know the B&B as A Hard Days Nite. He says, "ask for the Beatles house." Call (618) 438-2328 for more information.

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