For much of Weston’s 200-year history, many visitors found that staying at the Bailey House was essential to their having a most enjoyable time.
From 1851-1927, the hotel, that sat where today sits the Citizens Bank, had a national reputation. It was the ideal country inn, famed for its management and hospitality.
The ambiance was gracious and comfortable, making the hotel preferred even over the newer, more modern ones. The cleanliness of the lobby, halls, and bedrooms was unsurpassed. The food in the dining room was memorable, especially its fried chicken (its recipe, alas, now lost) As with visitors to the town, so with Westonians themselves. The Bailey House was for long the center of community life – a place for dances, parties, and holidays, or any special occasion for revelry.
The town’s business and professional men also looked upon the hotel as a treasured place of fellowship and a retreat of sorts. Those or others who had a taste for politics and debate had a name for themselves: the Weston Senate and Every Evening Club.
Over the years, the policies of Presidents from Fillmore to Coolidge and the issues of slavery, secession, tariffs, free silver, women’s suffrage, socialism, prohibition, and many others were taken up, resolved, and disputed all over again in the Bailey House’s lobby, its dining room, or out front on benches along the tree-lined sidewalk.
The original genius of the hotel’s management was its namesake, the ever-welcoming, backslapping, portly Major Minter Bailey, supported by his talented, tireless wife, the former Sallie Bastable, who oversaw the kitchen and much of the staff, who were loyal to the point of considering themselves, and in turn being treated like, part of the Bailey family. Among them were two sisters, originally slaves, Nancy and Maria Lee, who proved to be brilliant chefs.
In 1871, it was they who created the recipe for the hotel’s widely-praised and greatly-desired fried chicken. Fittingly enough, each day the dining room’s doors were ceremonially opened with the chiming of a gong with a small, felt-muted mallet.
The Weston Fairs and Festivals Committee is pleased to present, starting at 6 p.m. on July 25, a re-creation of the Bailey House dining room, located at 128 Main Avenue, where the general public may enjoy a four-course dinner that features fried chicken and other foods characteristic of Weston’s hotel cuisine during the late 19th century.
The “Bailey House” will be managed by Thyme Bistro. Its outstanding chef, Geoff Kraus, has created his own recipe – “Present ‘Thyme’ Bailey House fried chicken” – in tribute to that outstanding fried chicken of years past.
Reservations are required and can be made by phone – 304-269-3683 – or at the City Municipal Building.
The cost per person is $30, and the payment is to be made when making a reservation. (Gratuity is not included.) At the time of making reservations, each patron will be asked to choose between having fried chicken or river trout as the main entrée.
Following is the entire menu for the four-course meal:
Jackson’s Mill Cornbread
Relish plate – radish, Mom’s cucumbers and onions, sliced tomatoes, olives, deviled eggs
Pea Soup à la Reine (a creamy puree of summer peas and rice)
Present “Thyme” Bailey House Fried Chicken – or – River Trout in Parslied Butter
Mashed Potatoes, Lima Beans
Vanilla Ice Cream with West Virginia Jam