Norris actually received this award in July 2002.
Norris joined the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) in 1967.
Norris actually received this award in July 2002.
Norris joined the International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM) in 1967.
On August 24, 2008, Norris & Mary Elizabeth celebrated 50 years of marriage.
The agenda was a alfresco dinner party at their son Nibby’s Water St home. They invited 24 of close friends on Saturday evening August 23, 2008. Then had a reception at the church on Sunday afternoon August 24, 2008 for everyone.
Norris a lifelong magician and has always been involved in magic the weekend is being called "50 Magical Years of Marriage".
One interesting tidbit is that Norris and Mary Elizabeth were married at First Baptist-Henderson and continually have been active members of that church their entire married life. What an accomplishment. We only know of one other couple that can say they have too. Are there others?
Below is the slideshow of pictures from Weekend Celebration
Tell us about your 50th Wedding Celebration event!
The Priest family, from left, Norris, Nibby and Mary Elizabeth were given the Downtown Henderson Project’s “Heart of Henderson” award. Photo by Mike Lawrence
By RON JENKINS, Gleaner correspondent
Friday, January 26, 2007
A family that lives and works in downtown Henderson was honored Thursday as recipient of the Downtown Henderson Project’s "Heart of Henderson" award, marking the first time in in the award’s 13-year history that it has gone to a family.
Norris Priest, his wife Mary Elizabeth and their son Nibby were lauded by presenter Bill Rideout as a family involved in a wide range of "in-depth opportunities" that promote Henderson and its downtown.
The Priest family owns the Vaughn Insurance Agency at 315 N. Main St. and the L&N Bed and Breakfast at 327 N. Main as well as downtown rental property.
"We always like to say we’ve come a long way," Mrs. Priest said, smiling. "Our first home was across the street from where we are now." In a more serious vein, Mrs. Priest told the audience, "You don’t know what a delight it has been" to manage the bed and breakfast, which has attracted visitors to Henderson from afar.
Rideout described the bed and breakfast as "a great public relations vehicle" for Henderson and outlined several civic endeavors by the family, including Nibby Priest’s organizational efforts for the Pickin’ n Pedalin’ biking event related to Bluegrass in the Park, Mrs. Priest’s volunteer role as a swimming instructor for young schoolchildren and Norris Priest’s entertainment contribution as an amateur magician.
"This is a great community to be from," Norris Priest said. "It’s really been good to us. We love you and may God bless you in a special way."
April 3, 2004 Henderson Gleaner Newspaper
This is to convey a very pleasant experience I recently had in Henderson. I live in San Marcos, Texas, but I grew up in
Kentucky living at various times in Central City, Clinton, Fulton, Paducah, and Henderson. Upon my recent retirement I brought my wife, a native of Virginia, with me to visit all the places I had lived while growing up. I lived in Henderson in 1944-45.
My wife and I had made reservations at the L&N Bed & Breakfast on North Main Street. We arrived the afternoon of March 17, 2004 unsure of what to expect.
Having been born in 1940, I did not remember a whole lot about Henderson, but I did remember where we lived. We lived in the basement of a house on Center street with a view of the city park and of the fire station that was right next to it.
Finding Center Street was easy enough, but I immediately realized things had changed a lot. The fire station was gone and so was the house. Our house was approximately where the new addition to the First Baptist Church meets the adjacent parking lot.
My Dad, whose name was Lowell Weatherspoon (nick-named Spoon), worked for Southern Bell Telephone Co. He took me to the park often, and it seemed pretty much as I remembered it, although I do not remember a fountain being there.
Fire stations always fascinate little boys, and I was no exception.My Dad took me there to visit frequently, and I remember pictures — long since misplaced — of me sitting in the driver’s seat of one of the fire engines. Every time I’d hear the fire sirens, I’d run out of the house to watch them leave the station.
I saw my very first movie in Henderson. According to Mary Priest, our gracious hostess at the L&N Bed and Breakfast, it must have been at the Kentucky Theatre. That location is now occupied by an office building.
One night we had dinner at Wolf’s. I picked it because it was there when I lived on Center Street. My Dad didn’t own a car, and it was a short walk from where we lived, so it’s very possible that my parents might have taken me there.
The reason for this letter is to pay a compliment to the citizens of Henderson. My wife and I both were so very impressed with your city.
Judging by all the restoration, the cleanliness, and the uncommon courtesy of every single person we encountered, it’s obvious that there is a lot of pride being taken in the city.
As we were leaving, my wife said, "I wouldn’t mind living in Henderson." You can’t imagine how much of a compliment that is coming from someone who thinks Virginia is the finest place on Earth. Even though it was a long time ago, and I only lived there a short while, I’m proud to say that Henderson was once my home.
San Marcos, Texas
(Ken we really enjoyed you staying at L&N Bed and Breakfast! )
Local pair find themselves caught up in ‘geocaching’
By DONNA B. STINNETT, Features editor
October 5, 2003
Sometimes they find the "treasure." Sometimes the "treasure" comes to them.
Since July, uncle and nephew have participated in the hobby of geocaching, which is basically an adventure game for global positioning system users.
Basically, individuals and organizations in 180 countries have set up their caches — little "treasure chests" of such trinkets as small toys, coins, stamps, trading cards, miniature games and other
inexpensive items — and share the location coordinates on an Internet site.
GPS users then use the coordinates to find a cache, take something and leave something (if they want) and sign a log book
that’s put in the cache.
All the details about both locating and establishing a cache can be found at www.geocaching.com.
Nibby and River set up their own cache in downtown Henderson at the first of July, and two days later the first geocachers located it and left a message.
Since then, nine other treasure hunters have stopped by to sign the log book, including some visitors from New Mexico, who left a plastic roadrunner in the box for good measure.
River, a first-grader at Holy Name School, said it’s a lot of fun to see what messages the people leave and what items are added to their box of goodies.
"He checks it just about every day," Nibby said. Their cache isn’t the only one in Henderson. The geocaching Web site lists two others — one in Newman Park and one in Atkinson Park. Two others that had been listed in Audubon State Park have been removed because the park has been declared off limits to geocaching by the Kentucky Department of Parks.
Park officials are fearful that off-trail activity can damage habitat in state nature preserves. Nibby said geocachers are encouraged to take a plastic bag with them when they’re out hunting to clean up trash while they’re at it.
"Cache in, trash out," he said, quoting the advice. "People who are doing this hobby are educated and environmentally conscious," he added. "They are the type people we want
to attract as tourists."
Plus, he said, it’s a good activity for his young nephew. "It’s a great hobby for kids," he said. "It gets you outside and you have to use your brain to find the cache. You get exercise while you’re doing it and you see things you wouldn’t normally see."
Kentucky Home of John James Audubon shows why he had a passion for birds, nature
Off the beaten path, on banks rising high above the wide Ohio River is a quaint and charming, and largely undiscovered little town, Henderson. Founded in 1796, it was once the richest per capita town in the United States.
At the close of the 19th century, Henderson was a thriving port, exporting rich dark tobacco all over the world. Residents were affluent; they built beautiful homes along exceptionally wide tree-lined streets.
It’s a front porch kind of town. Last Sunday morning residents of handsome homes sat in white rockers and dark green wicker, sipping coffee and reading newspapers before church bells tolled from a hefty handful of handsome houses of worship.
Downtown streets bear simple names, Main, First, Second, Third. They’re lined with antique shops, a fabric store, a shoe shop with a shoemaker’s bench in its dusty plate glass window, a gift shop chock full of treasures and a florist offering fresh cut stems.
In the mix is Alles Brothers Furniture whose founder, Jacob Alles, is credited inventing the rolltop desk in the 1870’s. The store is in good company in this historic hamlet.
Accommodations range from standard hotel chains to a few charming B&B ’s. We chose L&N, just a block from the Ohio River and right next to a train track. It was quite the find.
Innkeepers Mary Elizabeth and Norris Priest are salt-of-the-earth folks. She provided more tourist information than any Chamber of Commerce could. The inn is listed on the National Register.
It is spotless from stem to stern. The Priests live next door, so guests in the four bedrooms have the run of the place. Victorian furniture fills the parlor and dining room. Bedrooms offer antiques, some with ceiling fans, and most have a stained glass transom over the door.
The heavy oak staircase is lovely, as are the dark hardwoods that run throughout the house.
And just outside our windows, trains ran all night. Far from disturbing, they were a peaceful clacking, transporting us back to simpler times and places.
Also running with the wind are thoroughbreds at the nearby Ellis Park Race Course where horse racing has been conducted continuously sine 1925. The 8,500-seat grandstand offers live racing from early June through Labor Day and inter-track wagering in the off season.
Since 1991 Henderson has hosted an annual W.C. Handy Blues and Barbecue Festival the second week in June. Some 20,000 fans come to hear the music of the fields, the river and the docks Handy made famous.
The festival offers Zydeco, red beans and rice on Thursday night each year, and then there’s two days of “nothin’ but the blues”.
The year-round piece de resistance in Henderson is John James Audubon State Park, 700 acres of natural beauty. The park preserves the peaceful woods where Audubon walked and painted.
The first artist or ornithologist to depict life size birds and animals in their natural surroundings, Audubon lived in Henderson for several years. Born in Les Cayes, Santo Domingo, he grew up in the lush Caribbean before moving to France and ultimately to the States.
His unquenchable passion for nature led him to be a prolific painter of birds and animals of North America. Many of his original oils and watercolors hang in the park’s John James Audubon Museum & Nature Center
The center is fascinating with its four galleries which interpret Audubon’s life through his original works, personal effects and a world event timeline. Life-sized folio editions of his masterpiece, “Birds of America”, are among the treasures. The Museum houses the most extensive collection of Audubon memorabilia in the world.
Family photos, family silver and the tale of a man who strove to achieve is woven through the brilliantly composed galleries. An original copper plate, one of only 17 remaining in this country, is a recent addition to the museum.
In addition to the history and the art the galleries provide, an observatory features huge sparkling glass windows looking into the world of nature he loved and painted. Bird feeders, stations for squirrels and a small pond are just on the other side of the glass.
Binoculars are provided for visitors’ use. With them, a cardinal is inches away. A finch flutters. A morning dove alights. Squirrels frolic and a pair of woodchucks, cute enough to pet, scamper about their feeding area. A hummingbird stares back through the glass, poised in mid-air. Monarchs flit effortlessly by as though propelled by gentle breezes.
Also in the beautiful French chateau-like structure is a discovery center for young minds and hands to enjoy as they learn of bird feeding, habitat and behavior. And there’s a gift shop, a treasure trove of all things Audubon, but also gardening gifts, jewelry and handmade Kentucky creations from soap to syrup.
The sprawling park offers miles of hiking trails. We chose the Wilderness Lake trail which wound through quiet woods, marsh land and the perimeter of a small lake where frogs jumped and turtles sunned.
Overhead, a bird’s wings stirred the quiet early morn.
The pristine park offers camping, a nine-hole golf course, fishing, a beach, pedal boats, tennis and six rustic cabins. Five offer one bedroom; one wheelchair accessible cottage has two bedrooms. All have a fireplace, fully equipped kitchen and a back porch that overlooks a quiet lake.
The park makes for a fantastic day or weekend. Family activities abound.
By VICKI STOUT For The Tennessean Newspaper Sunday, September 1, 2002,
“ Some might question the soundness of opening a bed and breakfast next to elevated railroad tracks that carry heavy train traffic across the Ohio River. But there have been no sleepless nights for a philosophical Mary Elizabeth Priest: ’If you have a problem and you can’t fix it, you feature it!
So far, only two guests at the L&N Bed and Breakfast that she and husband, Norris, operate at 327 N. Main St. have complained about the passing trains.
Most guests are like Cheryl and Raymond Mackey of Shelbyville, Kentucky. Each August they rent the front upstairs guest room whose blond four-piece bedroom suite was sold in 1939 for $125 by Alles Brothers Furniture, a longtime Henderson merchant.
“We get the full impact of the train,” says Cheryl Mackey. “First you hear it coming, then it gets right by the house and rocks you to sleep.”
The Mackeys are among the thousands of street-rodders (owners of souped up pre-1949 cars) who’ll be at this weekend’s Frog Follies in Evansville.
They found the L&N ($85 a night, including breakfast) several years ago after tiring of what Mackey says are Evansville’s jackedup hotel room rates. He has a ‘37 Chevy coupe, she has
an award-winning 1932 Dodge. “We love that (L&N) to death,” says Cheryl Mackey, referring to the personality of the two-story brick house “ its stained glass transoms, original oak staircase, dining room table with pie-crust trim, sliding pocket doors and claw-foot bathtubs.
Train memorabilia is scattered about, including railroad lanterns atop a refrigerator, a 1969 train calendar, wall prints, old model trains on fireplace mantels and a front door whose locomotive design was specially made by an Evansville stained glass company.
But it was the discovery of L&N doorknobs that gave the Priests a name and theme for their bed and breakfast after they bought the house in 1995.
Built in 1895 by Irish immigrant John O’Byrne, the dwelling was one of many condemned in 1931 to make way for new elevated tracks across the river. At the 11th hour the railroad company decided to use it as a boarding house for its workmen.
The Priests think railroad crews took the home’s elegant brass doorknobs, replacing them with stock L&N stamped doorknobs from the stockpile. “Now, look which one’s worth more,” says Mary Elizabeth Priest.
Because the Priests (married in 1958 and in the insurance business since 1974) live next door, the L&N’s guests are invited over each morning. “We have the most interesting breakfast table in town,” quips Mary Elizabeth.
The Priests look forward to the Frog Follies. “It’s our biggest weekend each year,” says Mary Elizabeth.
During World War II the house was divided into efficiency apartments for wives of Camp Breckenridge soldiers, which made it easier to convert to a bed and breakfast. Guests range from visiting doctors (whose healthy eating habits rub off) to a young Kansas City family who visit relatives here each December and celebrate Christmas at the L&N.
By RICH DAVIS, Courier & Press staff writer © 2001 Evansville Courier
Tell us about your experience staying at the L&N Bed and Breakfast or any bed and breakfast?
A certain Cape Girardeau, Mo., couple are mighty glad this community was founded by Judge Richard Henderson’s Transylvania Company and named for the judge. After all, if the town had any other name, this pair of newly weds would never have considered it for their honeymoon spot and they say that would have been a real loss.
The twosome selected Henderson KY for those first days of their marriage specifically because of its name. They’d never been here and didn’t know the first thing about the city when they spied it on a Kentucky map about a month prior to their May 9 wedding. As the bride recalls, "We knew we wanted to honeymoon in Kentucky, but we didn’t know where. So we pulled out the map and I said, `Oh, my goodness! There’s a town named Henderson!"
They quickly decided this would be their destination.Why is the name so significant to them? Because they are Ron and Michelle Henderson, a young couple who met at Southeast Missouri State University five years ago. This is the first marriage for both of them and, Michelle says, "the ONLY one. "He’s an engineer who is utilities maintenance manager for the university that’s their alma mater, and Michelle currently is concentrating on establishing their home.
She previously worked for Standley Batch Systems, and it was her co-workers there who looked up Henderson on the Internet for her and Ron and provided them with information that included the location of the L&N Bed and Breakfast here.
Then those thoughtful chums went one step further and paid for the first two days of the Hendersons’ honeymoon stay at the inn owned by Norris and Mary Elizabeth Priest. Ron’s co-workers paid for an additional day as a wedding gift. The Hendersons fell in love with Henderson. While they were here, they went on the Downtown Henderson Project’s porch tour, and thought it was delightful.
They first stopped at Bart and Tiffany Sights’ porch, where they related that they had just gotten married.Word spread fast, and at subsequent porch stops Ron and Michelle had people asking, "Are you the honeymooners? "Mike and Meg Farmer, whose porch was also on the historic circuit, wound up giving them a tour of their entire South Main Street home.
The Hendersons say they found that kind of warmth and hospitality in abundance here. Among places they especially enjoyed are the downtown where they walked daily; the riverfront, where they found an unusual piece of driftwood that became a gift for the Priests; First Baptist Church, where they worshiped on Sunday, and several local restaurants.
They noted that one particular barbecue spot "is awesome!" Michelle says if they’d stayed here any longer, "we wouldn’t have wanted to go home at all."
They plan to make a return visit at the end of July to celebrate her 25th birthday. They’ve become a two-person tourism bureau for this community. As Michelle says, "We’re telling everyone they should go to Henderson for at least a weekend."
Wednesday, June 17, 1998 By JUDY JENKINS Gleaner columnist •••Copyright © 1998 The Gleaner