Twenty-Mile House

Even when I first went there, sometime in the mid-70s,
it was hard to picture the primitive highway
and the stagecoaches pulling up in mud and dust.
It was a restaurant by then, but I could feel its age
emanating from those old brick walls.
On that rainy day, the room was dark,
but that just added to the atmosphere. The bricks
seemed mossy, moist and cool, but it was difficult
to imagine those long-ago travelers sharing our table,
grateful to be pausing in their journey
twenty miles north of Cincinnati.
It didn’t occur to me to watch for ghosts. Instead,
I dug into my steak sandwich and french fries
and wondered what people ate in those days.
Now I live nearby, passing the old roadhouse
regularly, and it’s hard to envision
what The Twenty-Mile House looked like forty years ago,
much less during the 19th century. The brick walls
are covered with stucco and painted red.
The township is trying to tear the building down
and erect a gas station for suburban travelers
who need their fuel, their smokes and soda.
Please don’t. But if it comes to that,
I want a brick as a touchstone, a transmitter
to connect me to the lost stagecoach days
as well as a rainy Saturday lunch
that took place so long ago
it seems before my time.

Prompt source: Write a poem about something before your time (2012 April PAD Challenge, Poetic Asides, Day 5)

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4 Responses to Twenty-Mile House

  1. Steve Link says:

    We are also accepting tax deductible contributions to purchase the historic property and details may be found at the Warren County Foundation, Tel: 513 934-1001 by email to or visit THANK YOU.

    • NancyB says:

      Thanks so much for all the information, Steve. I was hoping someone would pick up on this and let readers know what kind of action they can take. Many thanks, too, for all the hard work to preserve Twenty-Mile House.

      • Steve Link says:

        Today the building is still in jeopardy of demolition. Join our cause by visiting our website where you can make a pledge that will only be called in IF we gain control of the property.

  2. Steve Link says:

    Friends of The Twenty Mile House, Inc. is a State of Ohio non-profit corporation. Articles of Incorporation: Purpose. To engage in activities that lead to the preservation, protection and ongoing maintenance of the historic Twenty Mile House for the enjoyment and education of residents of and visitors to Warren County and Deerfield Township, as well as its commemoration and memorialization as a significant landmark in the community.
    As you may know, Speedway is no longer under contract and the owner has engaged a new realtor. The current realtor with whom the owner has it listed is Tony Pope at
    So we have an opportunity! But the owner, Jeff Black, can demolish the building at any time that makes sense to him in order to market the property. YES, the building is still in peril. WHAT WE NEED MOST IS AN INVESTOR WHO WILL AGREE TO SUBDIVIDE AND DONATE THE BUILDING SO THAT WE CAN PROTECT AND PRESERVE.

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