For today's Wednesday Review, I am not reviewing a book or album or event. I am reviewing a town! My boyfriend, Shawn and I drove the 2 hours south of where I live and spent Saturday in Benton, Illinois. I wanted to take a few photos for my book. This is the first time I had ever been there when a Beatles event was not taking place.
When you get to the small town of Benton, Illinois you need to just park your car in the Benton square and walk everywhere. It is much easier that way. Just be aware that the parking on the square is 2 hour parking.
There is a small museum in Benton called the Franklin County Jail Museum. It is open Monday-Saturday 10:00am-3:00pm. The cost is $4.00 a person. It isn't located exactly on the square, but two blocks west. Things are really well marked in Benton, so you can find it. Most of this museum is dedicated to the last public hanging in Illinois for a bootlegging gangster. You can see the gallows where he was hung, and go into the jail cells and read all about the 1920's and gangsters and the law in Illinois. This museum is of interest to Beatle fans because on the second floor is the "George Harrison room." This room is set up to look just like the radio station where Marcia Schaffer interviewed George Harrison in September 1963. There is also the coca-cola soda machine that George used to buy drinks from on display. While it isn't anything earth shattering, it is still neat to see vintage items from 1963 and think about what Benton was like when George Harrison was visiting. Just about everything in the room is vintage and unfortunately is behind a large, black metal gate, so photos were hard to take. But I did my best!
The next thing you want to make sure you see is the historical marker for George Harrison that was unveiled in 2013. It is located outside near a bandstand. The locals call it a "park" but it isn't what I think of when I think of a park. It is right off of the square and very easy to find.
While you are in the square and have time, there are a bunch of little antique shops all around the square. It is fun to go in them and look for Beatles treasures and other fun things. I found some vintage Beatles items (out of my budget). I also talked to a nice woman that ran one of the shops that told me that she helped clean out Louise Harrison's house and found some guitar pics, which she got to keep. She has no way of knowing, but she is going to assume that they belonged to George. If you are getting hungry, I highly recommend the Chinese restaurant that is located on the square.
If you have never been to Benton, then you will want to see the house where Louise Harrison once lived. It is now a private residence and you cannot go inside. If you want to find the house, look for the signs for the Benton High School, because it is directly across the street from the high school. It is at 113 McCann Street.
The last thing you might want to do is try to re-create the photo of George, Louise and Pete (along with Lousie's daughter). The location of that photo was off the square a little bit on East Main.
Benton is a nice little town and going down there was a fun way to spend a sunny Saturday during my spring break. If you happen to be traveling through southern Illinois, it is worth a stop. It doesn't have the rich Beatles history that a lot of places might have, but it sure has more than anywhere else in the mid-west!