The Naples Boatel

The Naples Boatel...A Landmark of the Illinois River

The construction of the original Naples Boatel began in 1958 when Paul Vannier and his wife Dorothy envisioned a welcome port for all boaters traveling between the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Gulf of Mexico. The Boatel was built by Mr. Vannier, a self taught carpenter, from wood salvaged from the old, abandoned Continental Grain Elevator on the same site that the old grain elevator once stood. During construction, Vannier and his family reportedly lived in four rooms above the restaurant while he worked to complete the restaurant, bar, and dining room.

Once construction was completed in 1959, it contained a total of six sleeping rooms, a kitchen, dining room, a small bar and a large wraparound screened-in porch. The business boasted as a one stop shop on the Illinois River was just that. It was a motel, restaurant and gas station. Naples which was once the loading and unloading point for steamboat freight from New Orleans and St. Louis to Central Illinois now had a new 'port' where automobile and boat travelers along the Illinois River, could enjoy a great catfish dinner, a cool drink, and hospitality with great views of passing barges and other river traffic.

The Vannier's sold the Boatel in the fall of 1968 to Mr. William Campbell and he continued to operate the Boatel until 1970 when it was sold to Mr. Barney Adams. While the Boatel was owned by Mr. Adams, Norm and Eileen Howland were tasked with managing the daily operations. Barney's ownership of the Boatel continued until 1977 when the business was sold to a group of owners including William Saylor of Naples and Richard Spoley and Andrew Penska of New Jersey. Bill Saylor operated and managed the Boatel during this period of ownership. In June of 1991, the Boatel was once again sold to Mr. Louis Hazelwood of Kampsville. Tragically on November 6, 1991, the Boatel was engulfed in flames around 1:00 a.m. Despite efforts by local fire departments the Boatel could not be salvaged. The Boatel that had once stood as a landmark to not only the local communities, but for all boaters traveling the Illinois River would never open its doors again...until now.

Memories of the Old Boatel

Stay tuned for many great memories from the Old Boatel. If you have a memory you would like to share please contact us through the many social networking sites like Facebook, send us an email or comment through our website form on the 'Contact Us' page or give us a call. We would love to hear and share your memories of the Old Boatel and we look forward to be a special part in making new memories with you, and your friends and family.

Click here to view photos of the Old Boatel