Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Shelbie Murphy
Elizabeth Cottle is eager to share the story behind her antique store. She takes a lot of pride in her store, and it shows when she pulls out historic papers and articles from the past, ready to explain.
Cottle bought the building that is now The Primitive Goose in 2005 from Wilmer Otto. He is “the reason most of these buildings look the way they do today,” according to Cottle. He spent a lot of money on renovating and giving the buildings in Arcola an outside appeal, to match the inside.
But when Cottle bought the building, it was nowhere near what it is today. It was an old building already, and it didn’t have a storefront. Then leaders in Stewardson, another small town in Illinois, faced their own dilemma. They had an old opera house and they couldn’t afford to restore it, but they couldn’t afford to tear it down either. And when word got to Otto, they said he could have the storefront. So he hired an Amish man to travel to Stewardson and take it down, bring it back to Arcola and put it on Cottle’s building.
Back when Cottle was a youngster, she always had a desire to open her own antique store. She wanted to pursue it, but realized that she couldn’t make a living out of it. So she went into teaching and did that for 40 years in Tuscola, where she lives. She retired in 2006, so she was a teacher and opened her store and worked both for a year, and then focused on her store after retirement.
As for her personal life, Cottle has been all over the place — that is, when it comes to the places she has lived. Her dad was a construction worker who mainly worked on dams and highways, so that forced her family to move often.
It was teaching that brought her to Tuscola, and the charm of area communities like Arcola that have led her to stay.