|By CINDY LADAGE
MAKANDA, Ill. — In southern Illinois, near the Shawnee National Forest, tourists flock to the wine country and enjoy the lush beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Lila and Gus Jackson, of Makanda, Ill., decided to capitalize on all this tourism. Their empty tool shed was converted to a bed and breakfast, aptly named Toolshed Corner.
Nevertheless, no visitor to Toolshed Corner would believe it was once really a tool shed.
It has been split into two rooms, which are joined by a shared kitchen/sitting area.
Each room sports a private bath, deck, two-person whirlpool, gas fireplace, and all the amenities.
The bed and breakfast is ideally set up for a large family or two couples traveling together.
“Two families can easily stay. I am in accounting and Gus manages apartments, so we stock breakfast,” Lila said, showing the full refrigerator with breakfast fixings.
The transformation from shed to chic was the result of Gus’ handiwork and hobby collecting.
“We opened the day after Christmas in 2000,” Lila said. “We used the framework of the shed and tore it all the way down until all that was left was the metal roof. We used barn wood that came from a friend’s orchard. The tin for the roof and porch came from a friend of ours.”
A lot of the material was already available at their country home, due to Gus’ affinity for collecting tools, odds and ends.
“I had been hoarding materials on-site for a building,” Gus said. “I like the odd and different tool of any kind.”
Those tools did more than collect dust when Gus began building and designing.
The innovative use of space and material is one of the outstanding features of Toolshed Corner.
“The cabinets Gus made out of ammunition boxes, and the upper cabinet was a water bed headboard with a light in it. Gus found it and the table unit at a furniture store,” Lila said.
The Toolshed has seen visitors from as far away as Japan, Switzerland, Hungary and Turkey, Lila said.
Lila loves the great outdoors and is able to direct her guests to favorite spots, although she rarely has time now to enjoy them herself.
“I grew up along the Cache River. We went fishing about every day in the spring and fall and caught bass and bluegill. I remember once a fish so big you could put both hands into it. There is a lake nearby which is great especially for those that like the outdoors,” Lila said.
Besides working and running the Toolshed, Lila, along with daughter Amy, is pursuing a business degree in the evenings.
The Jacksons have three grown children, a son Jim that lives in Paducah, Amy that lives in Marion and has two children, and son Brandon who also has two children and lives in Anna, Ill.
With little time for travel of their own, Lila laughed and said, “I learn a lot about Southern Illinois from our guests.”
Interested patrons may call the Jacksons at 1-866-300-4063 or log onto www.tscbb.com
The Toolshed Corner is located at 1420 Hall Church Road, Makanda, IL 62958.
This farm news was published in the August 9, 2006 issue of Farm World, serving Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee.