A forgotten piece of Versailles' past was uncovered over the holidays during a simple remodeling project at the Chamber of Commerce building at 109 N. Monroe St.
A forgotten piece of Versailles’ past was uncovered over the holidays during a simple remodeling project at the Chamber of Commerce building at 109 N. Monroe St.
According to Chamber officials, an old water well was discovered under the floorboards as Mike Kilkenny of Barnett peeled back old carpeting to begin a quick fix of some warped flooring in a section along one of the walls.
He had to keep going and going because so much of the floor was rotten, but much to everyone’s surprise, he uncovered a part of local history.
Unbeknownst to years of feet walking above, just a couple of feet below them was an uncovered water well.
Kilkenny reported the find to Chamber President Deanna Lucas and she and her dad brought a rope to measure its depths.
Thirty-four feet deep with 14-feet of water in it, the old well or cistern has a casing of stacked stones.
With the building dating to circa 1905, the well likely dates back to the 1800s.
According to histories of Versailles, there were several water wells in town in its early days. Located across the street from the old Martin Hotel (now the Morgan County Museum), the well may also have served the stables for this stop on the old Butterfield Stage Line.
It also may have been used as part of firefighting efforts - bucket brigades were in use at the time. Versailles suffered two major fires in October 1886 and in March 1887.
The Chamber had planned to cover the well with a steel plate to preserve it and replace the old floor joists that are rotten before covering it all back up again. It is now also considering options for covering the well while still allowing it to be seen.