Sangamon County 
 Historical Society





Sangamon County Historical Society

The Purvines Barn at Clayville Restoration Project

July 31, 2013 1:42 PM | Deleted user

By: Jerry Smith

Sunday, July 21, 2013 marked another chapter in the restoration of the Clayville Historic Site. On that afternoon about 150 members of the Purvines Clan, related families, and general public gathered to view the progress made recently to turn the center section of the Purvines barn into a Pioneer Agriculture Museum honoring the early settler-farmers of Central Illinois.

The barn was originally built by Oramel Green Lee Purvines prior to the Civil War. Purvines was the third generation of his family who settled in Cartwright Township. His Grandfather was John Purvines, a Revolutionary War soldier who came here about 1820. John Purvines son and Oramel Green Lee’s father, Alexander Caldwell Purvines came at about the same time from North Carolina. Green Lee inherited 80 acres from his father and built the farm to over 500 acres of fine Illinois soil by the 1870s. The barn and the family home were located less than a mile east of Clayville. Late in the 1890s the family home was struck by lightning and burned but the barn survived. The property soon passed to James Henry Irwin and his wife Mary Etta Purvines Irwin (daughter of Oramel Green Lee), then to James and Mary Etta’s son George Purvines Irwin who eventually sold it to the Kettlekamp family – Mrs. Kettlekamp was also a Purvines descendent. In the early 1960s the Kettlekamps donated the barn to Dr Emmet Pearson who was beginning to build his pioneer village at the Clayville site and the barn was disassembled and reconstructed where it now sits.

        Purvines Barn in 2009                                                  Purvines Barn in 2013

The Pleasant Plains Historical Society has been the proud owner and operator of Clayville since July, 2009. Their first priority was saving the buildings which were in danger of deteriorating to the point of no return. Since then they have made substantial progress to put Clayville “back on the map” as a local historical attraction, open to the public for tours for the first time since 1992. Their most recent accomplishments have included the reconstruction of the porches on the Broadwell Inn (they had fallen off by about 1920) and now the addition of the Pioneer Agriculture Museum to the village.

Clayville is located 15 miles west of Springfield Illinois on State Route 125 toward Pleasant Plains, Illinois. Open for tours Tuesday through Saturday from 10am until 4pm April to October and for various special events and festivals throughout the year.


  • July 31, 2013 3:58 PM | Nancy Chapin
    If you haven't been out to see the new museum, you should go. There is a history of the Purvine family in addition to a grand assortment of early settler's tools and implements. The Clayville Restoration continues to astound as those wonderful volunteers manage to do more and more while still maintaining the park like setting they have created.

    The porches on the inn are quite an addition and complete that phase of the restoration.

    Congratulations to all!!!
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