ALTON, Ill. (KSDK) - The Lucy Haskell Playhouse has been the gem of an historic Alton neighborhood for nearly 130 years.
It's an extraordinary playhouse, built for an extraordinary little girl. At least, that's what the stories say about Lucy Haskell, who received this house as a gift on her fifth birthday. She died tragically of diphtheria just four years later. And, that's pretty much all the community has known about Lucy, until a surprise visitor showed up at a fundraiser for the Playhouse over the weekend. He had seen a report NewsChannel 5 did last week, about the group working to save the Playhouse. His name is Nick Clifford, and his mother's name was Lucy Haskell.
His mother was not the Lucy Haskell, for whom this house was built. Rather, she was named after the girl who would have become her aunt had she lived into adulthood.
"This great aunt I never had a chance to meet… the picture of her having tea parties in this wonderful playhouse is a nice comforting thought," Clifford said.
So, Clifford stopped by the Playhouse during a lemonade stand a group of area kids had organized. One of the members of the Haskell Playhouse Restoration Association, Carolyn Dooley, was there, and Clifford introduced himself.
"And you could have knocked me over with a feather!" Dooley said.
Now, Clifford is helping piece clues together about his family history, hoping to provide answers about the girl who shares his mother's name…. a name living on inside an extraordinary playhouse.
The lemonade stand over the weekend raised more than $2200 for the playhouse, helping reach the fundraising goal of $50,000 in 50 days. A good portion of that money Clifford donated. If you'd like to help, you can visit the Haskell Playhouse website.