The 1900s

Little is known about the Springs in the teens and twenties. In 1935, Ira Post and his wife, who had both visited the springs many times while growing up, bought the property and restored the hotel. At the time of purchase, the hotel had no roof, no doors, no windows, no steps - it was just the outer shell of a once popular hotel. Lon Cale was hired as the caretaker and worked at restoring the building with Mr. Post. A five room living area was restored for the summer quarters of the Post family and another apartment was fixed up for Mr. Cale. The pond was cleaned out and was stocked with fish. As late as the 1980s, koi could still be seen in the pond.

Post Family Caretaker

The Posts opened Vishnu Springs once more to their friends and family, and made the grounds accessible for anyone who wanted to visit. A spring house sat at the north end of the pond, where the spring emptied into it. A guestbook was left at the springhouse for visitors to sign and a tin cup hung inside for visitors to use to taste the water.

Spring House Guestbook

Ira Post cherished Vishnu Springs and wanted others to enjoy it just as he and his family did. Post wanted the site left as it was found and words to that effect were posted on-site.

When Ira Post died in 1951, his wife, Reatha, continued to keep Vishnu Springs accessible to visitors. In 1954, however, Mrs. Post had the entrance to Vishnu closed and no trespassing signs put up because of vandalism that was being done. Since 1935, the Post family has retained ownership of the property, until recently when a donation of the land was made to the Western Illinois University Foundation.

In the 1960s, another attempt to revive the hotel was made. Two local men, again, fixed up the hotel, opened a restaurant, and rented rooms for overnight visitors. Music was again heard at the hotel. The resurrection of the hotel was a short lived venture, after which it again sat empty until the mid-1970s when it was rented by college students.

The 1970s was a time in American society when the term "hippie" was used for anyone who seemed to "enjoy life a little more than normal." It was the era of the Vietnam War, and anti-war protests, drugs and alcohol, and maybe even free love, so when the college students moved in, the neighbors were leery of what was going on at the Springs. The students befriended Ira Post's daughter, Betty Post Cutler, and his granddaughter, Olga Kennedy, Betty's niece. A lease was signed and for the next several years, college students and local musicians lived at the hotel and tended to its care. During that time, the hotel was being looked after again. The tenants who lived there for the next decade took pride in the residence and gave the hotel new life.

Vishnu Today

Musical events were again held during the 1970s, with two such events attended by a couple hundred people, but the property was well cared for and the hotel was not sitting empty.

Since the last tenants have left, sometime in the 1980s, the hotel has sat empty. An effort was made in 1989 by the McDonough County Historical Preservation Society to partner with the Audubon Society to revive Vishnu. This effort never came to fruition.

In 2003, the Western Illinois University Foundation was gifted 140 acres of land in McDonough County, which included Vishnu Springs. The donor, Ira Post's granddaughter, is a 1946 graduate of Western. The site has been named the Ira and Reatha T. Post Wildlife Sanctuary.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6