A continuing narrative by Thomas Beckett-the Original Six Toed Cat
Greetings to you in this the inn’s 106th year of existence. Of course I was around long before 1909 when the Allerton Hotel Association was formed and Mr. Church directed the construction of this building when Allerton was a busy railroad town. Since then, there have been numerous owners, events, and changes in the building and I’ve been here to witness it all.
People may come and go, but ghost cats remain loyal to their home forever.
In the fall of 2010, new owners arrived to carry on the fine tradition of the inn’s welcoming hospitality and commitment to helping guests “take life a little slower.” Larry and Linda Murphy, along with Linda’s sister Kay, took ownership in October, traveling from Arizona and California. The sisters have family ties to Wayne County and are experienced in baking and catering.
Larry has many years of customer service experience in the travel industry. They are joined by son Keith, granddaughter Madison and grandson Matthew, as well as Linda & Kay’s mom, Rosalie. They look forward to providing an elegant, restful environment for large groups celebrating an event, sportsmen enjoying southern Iowa’s hunting and fishing seasons, or couples seeking a quiet getaway. I’ll haunt them all the same, as usual.
I’ve observed Christmas decorations starting to appear throughout the building and have overheard reservations being accepted for holiday parties.
After the holidays, I know that the Valentine’s Day traditional dinner will continue to be a featured public event, along with the inn’s popular Mother’s Day Luncheon in May. And, of course, feel free to call and ask about any specific requests and availability for family reunions, meeting rooms, rehearsal dinners, or quiet getaways. (Last year we even had a couple of “ghost hunters” show up trying to get a look at me, but I don’t perform on demand anymore – I’m a much too old and clever spirit for that).
While the overall Victorian ambiance and decor remains, there has been some rearrangement and reorganization of the guest rooms to enhance guest comfort. The Alice Blue bedroom is now a Video/DVD/Reading room, though it still retains the Roosevelt influence. The Settlers Suite (formerly the Mormon Trail Suite) now contains a queen bed and coffee makers are provided in each suite. Guests may select from the inn’s own video collection or bring their own movie to enjoy. Carry’s Lounge just off the main lobby provides satellite TV service for sports fans, kids, and large groups. The main lobby is a great place for meetings, card and board games, or just visiting with fellow guests. Historic photos, artwork, and period antiques reflecting southern Iowa’s rich heritage are located throughout the building. The main attraction, of course, is the original portrait of me that you can’t miss and which you will surely admire. Full scale copies are available and I’ve been known to autograph them for special guests.
In warmer weather, you can enjoy the inn’s east portico, relaxing on the porch swing or lounge chairs, sipping iced tea or lemonade while observing the south wall of Dani’s Restaurant building just across Elm Street, decorated with Wall Dog murals commemorating America’s veterans. Be sure to check out the mural on the front of the inn’s historic “Alley Cat” which originally served as the county telephone operator’s building (that is one part of the property I don’t haunt!). On warm moonlit nights you might catch a glimpse of me patrolling the inn’s north side garden area, especially near the gateway facing Central Avenue next to Log Chain Apiary.
That’s about all for now. I’ve heard there are other interesting events in the planning stages as the year goes along. So check back with me from time to time and I’ll keep you updated about the latest plans, which are sure to include great food and friendly hospitality.
Until next time, be kind to strays and drive safely. I hope to be “haunting you” soon. Remember, if it weren’t for me, your ghost cat, there wouldn’t be an Inn of the Six-Toed Cat.
OTHER LIVES – My name is Thomas Beckett (no relation to the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162-1170). I’m a ghost cat. When I was alive, I hung out at this old hotel while the workers were restoring it back in the 1980s under the direction or Mr. Bob Finley. Because we six-toed cats are supposed to be good luck – Ernest Hemingway had more than a few, for example – Mr. Finley renamed this old Allerton Merchant’s Hotel in my honor: The Inn of the Six-Toed Cat (and it was about time!). Subsequent owners decided to keep the name and I’m glad they did.