Lilly and Tim Kingsley, Hays, have transformed a limestone chicken coop in the country south of Ellis into what they say will be a bed and breakfast called The Roost. That is, if it’s approved in August by the Ellis County Commission.
“It started out we were just going to add a bathroom and we got carried away,” said Tim, who owns the remodeling company Home Steel Siding and Windows, Hays, which helped make some of the improvements.
The chicken house was built in 1930 by Tim’s father, Mahlon Kingsley, who was born and grew up on the farm there. The farm was homesteaded by Mahlon’s father in 1878.
The Ellis County Joint Planning Commission on Wednesday evening — during the brief storm that hit the area — voted to recommend the Ellis County Commission approve the permit required for the Kingsley’s to operate a guest cottage venture. The matter goes before the county at its regular meeting Aug. 13.
The coop was used as a chicken house until 1994. It sits off Munjor Road about 8.5 miles from the Co-op in Ellis. The Kingsleys began cleaning it up in 2014 as a place to stay on weekends when they went out to work on the farm.
The structure is long and wide, 48 feet by 11 feet, with a roof that slopes from one end to the other, going from 54 inches to 74 inches, prompting Tim to tell the commission, “The NBA isn’t going to be coming by.”
Chicken houses such as the Kingsley coop with windows running along the south side of the house were built all over the country and in Ellis County at about the same time as theirs, said Tim.
But those were typically made of wood or brick, so the Kingsley coop is unusual in respect to the limestone. Tim speculates the stone was hauled in from Rush County.
“My dad and his brothers built it, but they paid a stonemason to show them what to do and hired a laborer for 25 cents a day to mix the concrete for them,” he said.
The bed and breakfast idea began to emerge after one of Tim’s cousins came back to visit from Arizona and was delighted to stay in the remodeled cottage. Then some hunters asked to stay while hunting leased land in the area.
Lilly, a graphic designer who owns Hamlin Creative Consulting, Hays, designed the floors and picked the colors for the cottage. Her son-in-law Shane Loving did the electrical and tile work.
Planning and Zoning’s Karen Purvis, environmental sanitarian, presented the project to the commissioners.
“I do want to applaud the owners. I’m sure other bed and breakfasts have opened up without going through this process,” Purvis said. “So I want to applaud them for doing it the right way.”
The Roost is two miles from the Smoky Hill River, with fields of milo, wheat or other crops in between, depending on the season. On certain mornings and evenings there’s a haze on the hills, Tim said.
“When you look out these south windows, all you see are the Smoky Hills,” said Lilly. “And on a clear evening you can see the stars at night.”