Restaurant CLOSED on June 29th, 2014
after 9 years of service.
Who was Charles Brainerd?
Charles Brainerd, born on September 10, 1839, was a native of Rome, New York and a civil war veteran. He came to Grafton to work for the Grafton Stone and Transportation Company, starting as a clerk, later as superintendent in 1866, serving in that position for many years, and then became a stockholder in the company. Brainerd also served as the Grafton Mayor for several terms and was a prominent businessman of his time. Charles Brainerd spent the last 30 years of his life raising his family in this beautiful home he built in 1885. He died here on April 6, 1918 at the age of 78.
When did the house become a restaurant?
For many years the home's main function was as a family residence. Then, in the mid 1990's a restaurant called Grandma's Kitchen opened, starting the restaurant trend that still exists today. In 1997, the home was purchased by Pat Duffy and John Bick. They are credited with the excellent renovations, which transformed this lovely home into a restored work of art.
In 1998 the Charles Brainerd house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and re-opened as the Elsah Landing Restaurant and Brainerd House Bed and Breakfast. Another restaurant called Michaels also operated out of the Brainerd House just before the Mississippi Half Step owners opened their doors in April 2005. We have been serving the Grafton community proudly ever since.
What is the current owners' background?
Originally from Alton, IL, Carla and Jim Newton, opened their first restaurant in Edwardsville, IL in 2003 called the Global Noodle. They specialized in pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches and French bread pizzas. After moving to Grafton unexpectedly in 2004, they decided to open the Mississippi Half Step. In 2006, they closed the Global Noodle in order to concentrate on their future in Grafton.
What are some of the home's details?
The brick house is constructed with a rock-faced limestone foundation which rests upon a limestone outcrop, part of the great limestone bluffs along the Great River Road.
Inside, three fireplaces, pine floors and transom windows are all original. The woodwork is also pine, with black-painted chamfered edges. The front entrance still gives access to what was once the formal parlor facing Main Street, the dining room facing Grafton Hills Drive and the informal parlor, now our hostess room.
The kitchen was originally located where our current bathrooms are, adjacent to a back porch leading to our handicap entrance.
Is the upstairs still used as a Bed and Breakfast?
No, but feel free to browse upstairs and enjoy the antiques, furniture, and other fun finds in Clementine's Closet, which is always open.
How many bedrooms did the house have originally?
The upstairs appears to have contained at least three bedrooms. The master bedroom is thought to be the west room, now Clementine's Closet, and to have an archway opening to what may have been a children's room.
Is the restaurant's current kitchen original?
No, the kitchen we use today was added in the late 1970's. The original kitchen was located in the hallway where the bathrooms are presently. The odd wooden window separating our dining room from the hallway was actually a pass-through from the original dining room to the original kitchen.
When did the house get plumbing?
The exact date is unknown but was not before the late 1920's.
What is downstairs?
The beautiful staircase leading to our lower-level is not original but was constructed in 1996 to give customers access to additional dining space.
What are the walls in the basement made of?
The basement walls and foundation are high quality Grafton limestone, which was also used in the construction of the Quincy Bridge, the St. Charles Bridge, and the Eads Bridge.
Is the giant wheel in the hallway real?
Yes, the ship's wheel came out of the towboat "Bixby," built by and for the Corps of Engineers in Gasconade, MO in 1929, then sold to Economy Boat Store in Wood River, IL in 1956. The wheel assembles from two pieces and was donated by Economy Boat Store for display at the Mississippi Half Step.
Did the building flood in 1993?
No, fortunately the house sits well above the 1993 flood level. During the high waters in 2008, the restaurant continued to operate despite the River Road and Main Street being impassable. Grafton Hills Drive intersects with Rt. 3 and allows our customers to travel safely to us any time the other roads may close.
"Hello baby I'm gone goodbye
Half a cup of rock and rye
Farewell to you old southern skies
I'm on my way, on my way
Half step, Mississippi