JAMES CANTY MORRISON HOME
The Morrison House sets exactly where it was built in 1854-1855. But think about what Illinois, Christian County, and Taylorville looked like at that time. Illinois had become a state in 1818, Christian County was organized in 1839, and Taylorville was incorporated in 1831. The house was built on the 1700 acre tract of land that James Canty purchased. He came as a young man from North Carolina in 1843, and married a native of Christian County, Elizabeth Young.
In 1854, the taxes on the 40 acre tract were $1.10, but in 1855, the rate had risen to $2.10 for the same land. The house is constructed of bricks manufactured on the Morrison farm with foundation walls 16” thick, first story walls 12” thick, and second story walls 8” thick. The interior walls are lath and plaster.
As you enter the home through the front door, you see that the bedrooms are located upstairs, as was typical of an 1850’s home. The beautiful curved walnut railing on the stairway exhibits the master workmanship of Mr. Morrison. He was commissioned to build the first public building for Christian County, a jail. In addition, he was a farmer and stock breeder and operated a ferry and a tannery. He was an active citizen and well respected in the community; serving as County Superintendent of Schools for three terms, helped establish the county fair, and was the first supervisor for Taylorville Township.
The porch on the east side was originally open air, but has since been closed to provide additional display area for clothing artifacts. The porch would have been used as a sleeping porch on hot summer nights. Also, notice the house is designed for cross current of air flow through the house from the doorway on the east to the large windows on the west. There are louvers above the doorway on the east which can be tilted to allow air movement – remember, there was no air conditioning at this time.
Notice the grandfather clock, secretary style writing desk, settee, piano, and old Victrola in the parlor. The dining room table features a beautiful demitasse coffee service. The kitchen has a collection of items such as butter churn, meat grinder, crocks, and items that were used during this period. The coal burning stove was donated by the Pugsley family.
Each of the bedrooms upstairs is furnished with period furnishings. The furnishings in the Waddle Room were all donated by the family. One bedroom is furnished as a children’s bedroom with dolls and toys.