The Alton Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau will do the driving in a journey through the historic village of Elsah and nearby Principia College on Saturday, May 16, as part of the Historic Elsah Spring Shuttle Tour. Two shuttle tours will be offered that day.
Established in 1853 by James Semple, Elsah has retained its yesteryear charm and historic persona as it sits nestled in a valley between limestone river bluffs and the Mississippi River. Striking gardens highlight the village’s small stone houses and frame buildings. Many of the buildings are original construction and showcase why the village was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. When the town was founded, residents were offered free homes if they built them using rock from Semple’s quarry and those houses remain to this day.
Elsah resident and historian Jane Pfeifer will lead each two-hour shuttle tour departing from the Alton Visitors Center, 200 Piasa St., Alton. The tours are scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Cost is $25 per person. Passengers will return to the Visitors Center at the conclusion of the tour.
In addition to an intimate tour through Elsah, the shuttle will travel through Principia College, a private liberal arts college situated on the bluffs overlooking the village and the Mississippi River. The college was built by renowned architect Bernard R. Maybeck, who has been ranked as one of the 10 greatest American architects. Eleven of the original 13 buildings remain on the college campus and are considered architectural masterpieces. The tour will include views of the Mississippi River.
The only stop on the tour will be the newly opened Elsah General Store, which is housed in a building built in 1877 and was once a dry goods store. The store offers vintage sodas, old-fashioned candy, gifts, cards and a weekly “Best of St. Louis” treat display.
For information on the Historic Elsah Spring shuttle tours or to make advance registrations, contact the Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau at (800) 258-6645.