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Old Is New Again

THE HISTORY

The historic building for Montgomery’s Place dates back to before 1900; likely close to 1896 according to a railroad rail used as a beam and to fire maps found online.  The earliest business that we know which used this space was a tavern known as “Montgomery’s Place” which is painted on the side of the building and mentioned in history books as “a tavern that attracted customers with its organ grinder and dancing monkey near the city well."  They say that taverns during Prohibition would have exotic animals and charge admission for customers to see these animals and you would get a free drink (because it wasn't illegal to drink; just illegal to sell alcohol).  Perhaps that was the case of Montgomery's Place.  We also know that it served food, because we uncovered "Restaurant" painted on the wall during demo.  

This historic building is also known for MacKellar's Bakery, which opened in 1908 and would close before 1950.  John MacKellar, who was also once the town mayor, started small - likely only taking the south portion of the 131 building (and possibly shared with Montgomery’s Place) before expanding completely.  MacKellar's Bakery became one the largest and most-respected bakeries in Southern Illinois, with his famous "Butter Krust Bread" delivered throughout the region by horse and wagon.  There are some folks who can remember the wonderful smells of the famous cinnamon rolls and breads as you walked by MacKellar's.

This combined history is one of the reasons that offering a craft food and beverage experience is so perfectly fitting for the space; and it is obviously where we got the name, “Montgomery’s Place.”  After all, it has been painted on the side of the building for more than 100 years.

THE BUILDING RENOVATION

Jennifer Spence of J. Spence Properties purchased the building and immediately began renovations in 2019.  The nearly 5,000-sq.-ft. building was a town eyesore and had a portion for the wall falling over and portion of a roof entirely gone.  Some of the brick walls had to be torn down, brick scraped and then later reused for exterior walls in the back.  The building required new roof, new concrete foundation/floors in the back, new steel posts, new beams throughout…and this was just the structural needs.  The building includes new windows throughout the space, new wiring, new plumbing, new HVAC, new lighting…and you would almost say “new” everything.  However, at every turn, what was removed that could be replaced in the building was…including tongue and groove walls, tin ceiling and brick.  The town pitched in with “historic items” including the beautiful 100-year-old wood walls in the bar area that was donated from an owner of a downtown Carterville building that had burned, but the floors survived.  The building has 16 antique doors that came from various places and carefully restored for the space.  Items salvaged from a historic house torn down by Grand Avenue Baptist Church were made available to use for the space, including bead board ceiling, hardware, and doors.  The historic Selz Royal Blue Shoe Ad that includes “Montgomery’s Place” on the side of building was carefully restored by Spence.  It was a four-year journey by Jennifer and a team of dedicated, local tradesmen to transform a building of ruin to what you are experiencing today, and hopefully inspires everyone of the beauty and importance of historic preservation.

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In the Kitchen

Tim Nation and Kyler Worthen of 131 Hospitality have teamed up to bring one of the region’s most unique dining experiences with their showcase restaurant, “Montgomery’s Place.”  With the goal of offering an unmatched craft food and beverage experience, featuring high-quality coffee, creative cuisine and classic cocktails, Tim and Kyler are dedicated to having “Montgomery’s Place” become a popular, regional draw and a favorite place for locals.  Exceptional service, delicious food, quality beverages…that’s what you will find at Montgomery’s Place.

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