OREGON COUNTY -- Vacationers, business people and weary travelers have several options for overnight lodging in Oregon County. There are motels, bed and breakfast inns and in recent years cottages and lodges. This is the first in a series of articles about the growing industry of overnight lodging in the area.
Five years ago Alton natives Rosemary and David Case opened the doors of Cotton Cottage. Their decision to provide cottage lodging stems from their annual trips to Houston, Texas. Rosemary Case recalled, "We'd drive to Houston every year and would see this sign 'Visit Historic Jefferson, Texas.' One year we had time to stop. It looked just like Alton, with two story buildings around (a) court square."
As they wandered around the little town they noticed an abundance of cottages available for overnight lodging. "A woman came up to us and asked if we needed help because we seemed to be looking for something," said Case. That woman turned out to be the mayor, and she shared the history of the town as well as how they'd developed tourism based on a nearby lake.
When the Cases returned to Alton there was a message on their answering machine that their renters in the old Cotton house had bought their own home and would soon be moving. The rental house became Cotton Cottage, the first of many rental cottages in the Alton area.
Today the Cases operate three cottages in the city of Alton: Cotton Cottage, Rose Cottage and Ivy Cottage. Each cottage offers all the amenities of a home. Each is fully furnished, accommodates eight or more, has satellite television, telephone, linens, kitchen appliances (Ivy Cottage has a dishwasher), all the accouterments for preparing and enjoying a meal, a washer and dryer and an outdoor grill along with picnic table. The Ivy Cottage has a deck adjoining a playhouse nestled in a catalpa tree.
Case said their guests range from business people to vacationers to the three couples from Kansas City who celebrate the New Year in Alton. Lodging rates begin at $35 for one person and $2.50 for each additional person. Breakfast is not served or prepared, but for an optional $2.50 per person breakfast food is available. For more information the Cases can be reached at 417-778-7782, 417-221-7782 (cell), or e-mail: email@example.com.
Seven miles north of Alton, Gary and Janet Bridges operate Greer Spring Lodge on Highway 19 next to the original Greer store. The Bridges opened their door to the public in July 2002. "When we moved into the new house," Gary Bridges said, " Jerry Richard at the canoe rental (Richard's Canoe Rental in Greer) recommended renting the old one out to canoeist. We thought we'd give it a try."
Being a few minutes from the Eleven Point River and the Mark Twain National Forest, the Bridges find most of their guests are those who come to enjoy the river or to hunt.
But one guest was a surprise according to Bridges, "This older couple from St. Louis stayed here. He had lived in this house about 50 years ago. They were as nice as they could be. I learned a lot of history."
Greer Spring Lodge is a fully furnished house, with bedding accommodations for six. Rates begin at $35 for up to four, $40 for six, and $50 thereafter ("bring your own sleeping bags," says Bridges). Contact the Bridges at 417-778-7971.
The Summer Cottage, on AA Highway (halfway between Turner's Mill and Whitten Access roads to the Eleven Point), is owned by Rick and Sherri Hollis. They also opened their cottage in the summer of 2002.
"A relative wanted to sell his land and house, and since it is next to ours we bought it. We thought about renting the house on a monthly basis until someone suggested making it a rental cottage," said Sherri Hollis.
Situated among pastures feeding cattle and an abundance of friendly goats, The Summer Cottage is a charming one bedroom, fully furnished house, including washer/dryer and satellite television where seven people can sleep (queen sized hide-a-bed couch and rollaway bed). There is also a new travel trailer on the property that can accommodate up to eight. "Mostly families with kids use that," said Hollis. "I worried about all the goats so close to the cottage, but all of our guests from big cities just love petting them," said Hollis. The Hollises provide transportation to the Eleven Point for those who bring their own canoes or kayaks. Hunters can use the skinning shed and dog pens. Rates are $35 for up to four guests and $45 per night for over four. For more information call the Hollises at 417-778-7305.
All of the hosts expressed the pleasure of providing lodging for so many kind and interesting guests.