You can Airbnb Roger Ebert's childhood home
Last month I was invited to speak at a literary festival in Champaign-Urbana, where the organizers put me up in a very special place: Roger Ebert's childhood home.
The shame: I had no idea this place was still standing, even though Ebert and I were close friends and I lived in Urbana for several years.
- He lived in that home from 1942 to 1961.
Why it matters: The house is rentable on Airbnb but hard to find unless you know the rental's code name: "Two Thumbs Up."
- It's about $200 a night, depending on the date.
Best for: Ebert-o-philes, or folks visiting the school who want a cozy historic home base.
Location: A quiet street about a mile from campus near Urbana High School.
Amenities: The adorable two-bedroom house has twin beds in one bedroom and a queen in Ebert's childhood bedroom, along with a patio, driveway and central air.
What's more: The owners, who run the Pygmalion Festival where I spoke, have decorated the home in mid-century modern style. And they've preserved key details noted in Ebert's autobiography "Life Itself," including:
- The ketchup and mustard color of his bedroom walls and ceiling
- Ebert's mother's hideaway ironing board in the dining room
- The '50s kitchen where his dad made his famous chili
Other neat touches: Urbana High varsity sweaters as wall decor, and an antique projector and camera.
The intrigue: I happened to fall asleep in Ebert's room reading "Life Itself." That night I had a dream that his ghost was in the room talking to me in a very friendly way.
- As if he was glad I was visiting.
Pro tip: If it's booked, you can still stop by the house, at 410 E. Washington, read this plaque and view it from the outside.
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