Final ride for stagecoach inn

West Liberty Heritage Foundation literally adds more history to the Heritage Grounds


A pre-statehood stagecoach inn was moved three miles on Monday, Feb. 26, from its location on U.S. Highway 6 to Heritage Park in West Liberty.

Orchestrated by the West Liberty Heritage Foundation, the building traveled down Hwy 6, cut across a field, traveled behind the high school and, ultimately, made its way to the Heritage Grounds.

The Beers and St. John Company Coach Inn, once listed on the Most Endangered Property List, will be restored by the WLHF and opened to the public as a museum.

The inn dates to 1841 when it was built by new settler Egbert T. Smith for use as a stage inn and tavern. The company was awarded the federal mail contract for the Bloomington (Muscatine) to Iowa City route.

Believed to be Iowa’s only remaining rural, heavy timber framed, First Period (1838-1845) stagecoach inn, the site was the focus of local and regional communications, transportation and commerce.

The inn is the only building from that period still on the property. The hewn timbers, handmade bricks, and quarried stone as well as the fine woodwork show its workmanship. 

The feeling of a territory era stagecoach inn is present in the floor plan, large chimney, exterior coach mounting mounds, walls and other features.

The inn’s basic floor plan is copied from Smith’s previous colonial home in Long Island, New York. The siding, windows, door and interior millwork were built and shipped from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Traveling down the Ohio River and up the Mississippi by steamboat, these materials arrived in 1841, when construction commenced.

The three-story inn occupies about 3000 square feet. The ground floor contains a foyer inside the front door with a staircase ascending to the third floor. The inn has four large bedrooms and a fifth smaller room used by the stagecoach driver.

With the arrival of the railroad in Iowa City in 1855 passing just two miles to its north, the site’s use as a stagecoach inn and staging point ended.

Smith closed the inn and sold the property. It became a private residence, and remains so to this day.

The Beers and St. John Company Coach Inn was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

The West Liberty Heritage Foundation thanks Nate and Emily Cahill for generously donating the house, which has been owned by their family for many years.