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HEBRON - The Stagecoach Inn on Main Street has changed little in almost 150

years while Hebron itself has gone from a farming community with dirt roads and

wooden sidewalks to a fast-growing town with subdivisions and fast-food

restaurants.

The saltbox-style building as well as the history of the Hebron community

have been preserved through the efforts of Louis Alyea, a descendant of a local

pioneering family, and a dedicated group of residents who formed the Hebron

Historical Society. Founded in 1991, the society took the responsiblity of

preserving the building and protecting the historical documents and artifacts

that were collected for decades by Alyea and housed in the building as a museum.

The green-shuttered, white inn was built in 1849 by John McCune as a stop on

the stagecoach route between St. Louis and Detroit. It was the first frame

building in Hebron and served as a stagecoach stop until the railroads made the

stage line obsolete in 1863. The inn remained a rest stop for railroad

travelers flocking to the area to hunt in the world-famous Grand Kankakee Marsh

area until the marsh was drained after the turn of the century.

Around this time, George Mosier bought the building, converting the tavern

to residential and commercial use. Long-time Hebron residents remember the

building housing a beauty shop, dairy, post office and shoe repair shop over

the decades. In the early 1930s, one end of the inn was removed and the land

sold to Dr. Butman to build his brick home.

Louis Alyea bought the building in the 1960s, in his words, "both as a

historical museum and as a memorial to the Hebronites who gave their lives in

defense of their country."

Alyea's son, Sgt. Donald Alyea, was killed during World War II on a bombing

mission. Louis Alyea bought the building two decades later with the pay,

compensation and life insurance he received from the government after his son's

death.

Alyea restored the building and collected documents, photographs and

artifacts to chronicle the history of Hebron and its settlers. The inn opened

as a museum and meeting place for local organizations in 1970.

Long-time Hebron resident Dorothy Bowman says she remembers going to church

potluck suppers at the inn. After dinner, the group would sit and listen to

Alyea while he relaxed in his rocker and related stories about the inn.

"He told us that the inn was the only remaining building that had been used

as a stop on the stagecoach line. Most of the buildings were pretty much the

same," she said.

Before his death in 1988, Alyea had wanted another organization to take over

the management of the inn. After his death at age 86, Alyea's heirs transferred

the ownership of the inn to the Hebron Park Board. On March 4, 1991, the Hebron

Historical Society was formed to maintain the building and its contents.

Over the years, the inn remained undamaged by two disasters that hit the

tiny town. "Both the tornado of 1917 and a hotel fire missed the Stagecoach

Inn," said Alice Komisarcik, historical society president. "It was supposed to

be here."

The historical society members had quite a jolt one evening after a meeting.

While they were standing in the dining room of the inn talking, they were

startled by a loud bang as the floor shifted.

"We found that a wooden beam in the basement had dropped and that the

foundation had to be replaced," she said.

The group sent out more than 300 letters to the town's families asking for

donations to finance the restoration.

"We were lucky with our donations," Komisarcik said. "We collected $16,000.

With the money and many donations of labor, we were able to preserve the inn

and re-open it as a museum in 1995."

The planners wanted to preserve the look of the original foundation.

Komisarcik and society member Bill Wagner removed 1,500 bricks from the

foundation and wire brushed each one. The bricks were replaced over concrete

blocks.

Local groups again use the inn for meetings. Hebron third-graders visit each

year as part of their Indiana history study.

The groups see pictures of early Hebron displayed around the main room that

stretches the length of the inn. The dining room houses displays in a huge

cherry cabinet from a local dry goods store. A 1912 angle lamp hangs over a

small dining table. The kitchen leads into a side room that displays artifacts

of diverse aspects of local history - a photograph of the first Hebron High

School graduating class, political campaign buttons, hand-made wooden tools,

military uniforms and a piece of chenille fabric once made at a local factory.

Upstairs, one large sleeping room had been divided when the inn was used as

a residence. One room is used to showcase local residents' special collections

from time to time, Komisarcik said. Another room holds dolls, period clothes, a

huge braided rug and an unusual matching china pitcher bowl, soap dish, mug and

chamber pot.

To arrange a tour, call Alice Komisarcik at (219) 996-7121.

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