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on the Prairie offers
luxury in the
midst of the cornfields
By Daniel Hines|
SULLIVAN, IL –It might seem strange to imagine
finding the mystery of the land of Oz, eating on the Queen Mum’s china
and enjoying a hot tub in your elegant room at most bed and breakfasts,
but only if you’ve never been to The Little House on the Prairie in
The Little House on the Prairie is nothing like
the popular television show of the same name. It takes its name from
proprietor Guy Little, Jr., whose reputation as a host is rapidly
exceeding his already well-established and equally well-earned reputation
as a producer of musicals and theatre dramas.
Guy is the founder of The Little Theatre on the
Square in Sullivan. For years, literally thousands of Theatre goers
flocked to the small community of 3,000 people to see a host of famous
stars (Van Johnson, Pat O’Brien, Harvey Korman, Betty Grable, Peter
Palmer, June Allyson, Pernell Roberts, John Carradine, Bill Hayes, Eileen
Fulton, etc. etc. etc) and, of course, one of Guy’s and history’s
favorites, Margaret Hamilton.)
That’s right, the "Wicked Witch" was
a regular performer for the more than 20 years that Guy produced a wide
variety of musicals and plays. And, she, as did so many of the
other stars, became a close personal friend of Guy. Reminders of that
friendship add a special touch to the Little House with special pictures
from performances, and a very Hollywood feeling in the lush Cabana which
also features a hot tub.
The pictures are not obtrusive, however, but
blend in wonderfully with the décor of the 1870's farm house which Guy
has restored to an elegance that when combined with the mementos of his
many years in show business, make The Little House on the Prairie one of
the most unique and gracious, as well as beautiful, bed and breakfasts you
From the moment you approach the Little House,
surrounded by a woody cluster in the flat Illinois farmland about five
miles outside of Sullivan, you know you are in for a special treat. The
globed light posts at the entrance are the only sign that you have
arrived, since the house is visible only from the driveway.
We have visited the Little House twice, once in
the Fall, the other time at Christmas. Each time was a unique experience.
The Fall visit was overwhelming because one just
could not expect the extensive, elegant and yet highly tasteful
decorations that include many restored authentic period pieces. The living
room is large and roomy with a wonderful fireplace. The library is
intimate and is a reminder of Guy’s stage background, being filled with
many books on the history and art of theatre. It is also the site of a
wonderful sound system that plays wonderful music from great Broadway
Upon arrival, you are greeted by Guy and his
partner, Kirk Cameron, who will gladly offer you a tour of the facility,
or, if you wish, bring you a wonderful fruit and cheese tray with your
choice of wine. Both are pleasant hosts who are a wealth of knowledge on
the actors and actress’ pictures tastefully interspersed with family
pictures, some from more than a century ago.
The Christmas decorations were an entry into
another time, and Guy’s extensive theatre background—plus his own
inherent good taste—made our Holiday one of the most memorable of some
time. Each room had a Christmas tree of some sort, and a wonderful, furred
Santa from Nieman Marcus stood guard in our bedroom.
We rented the master bedroom each time, a large
luxurious room, complete with a four-poster bed that required a step to
climb into, a beautiful wood-burning fireplace, two sofas, a wonderful
bath, and the hot tub. All this, wine and cheese, plus breakfast for only
$125 per night on Fridays and Saturdays, and somewhat lower during the
Our room was done in rich deep Burgundy that
reflected an elegance of a bygone era.
While the other rooms are smaller and not all
have the hot tub, they are all done in the style of years ago.
The Cabana is completed with white wicker
furniture on a black and white tile floor. The bar is similar to that of a
Florida sunroom, and the large hot tub practically invites a party to jump
in and enjoy it.
Guests can utilize any of the space such as the
living room or library, and while there on a first visit, we met a young
couple who had just moved to Illinois from Texas. The atmosphere creates
instant friendships and conversation.
Of course, no bed and breakfast is complete
without the breakfast. Just when you think it can’t get any better, Guy
and Kirk come up with yet another surprise. You order your breakfast the
night before. The menu includes your choice of Belgian Waffles (the
lightest and best one can eat), country butter, fresh fruits, a wonderful
dish of nuts, cream and bananas, country bacon, and one of the best garden
omelets I have ever experienced. If that isn’t enough, it is served in
the formal dining room complete with beautiful silver and crystal. Oh yes,
about the Queen Mum’s china—the pattern of the
Wedgwood plates is the same as ordered years ago
by England’s Queen Mother.
(You might even get serenaded at breakfast. Guy,
is also an outstanding performer and singer as well as producer. At
breakfast when my friend said she would like to stay permanently at the
Little House and was willing to work for her keep, Guy broke into song,
"Every man needs a working girl". )
Of special interest to tourists is the fact that
The Little House is located in the heart of Illinois Amish country, is
only a few miles from the 13,000 acre Lake Shelbyville, and the Little
Theatre—now managed by a local not-for-profit group-- continues to
present plays with equity performers throughout the Summer.
Because of its central location, the site is also
a good stopping-off point for visiting Illinois’ wineries. Travelers to
the state will discover that while the state is relatively narrow, it is a
long, long way from the northern part of the state to the Southern part.
If you plan a tour of the state’s wine country, you will certainly want
to include The Little House in your plans. Many people have already booked
reservations for special times through 2000.
Oh yes, about the Oz reference. Be sure to see
the pictures from Wizard of Oz, showing Ms. Hamilton in some of her most
memorable scenes, but with personal messages to Guy’s daughter, Vanessa
(such as in one scene, the Witch says to a terrified Dorothy, "There
Vanessa, that will teach you to be kind to witches". It’s all part
of the charm of this very charming and special place. You will know that
you’re " not in Kansas anymore.")
Name: Little House on the Prairie
Owner: Guy Little
How to get there: Located south of Sullivan, Illinois in the center of the
state. Sullivan is located on Route 32 and 121. We recommend going to
Sullivan and then checking directions since there is a short drive through
Facilities: TV in room (hidden in antique
cabinets), hot tub in large room, Cabana, swimming pool open in Summer.
CD' s of famous Broadway musicals.
Rates: Subject to time of season and week.
Credit cards : None