HANNIBAL — Charlie Phillips was elected to Hannibal City Council earlier this month and he has some big plans.
Representing Hannibal’s 4th Ward, which encompasses Southside Hannibal, he hopes to tap into the area’s potential.
It’s an area he’s come to know well after he and his wife, Laurel, moved to the region in 2015, and last May opened the Quarry House, a 1920 home they transformed into an Airbnb located just over the viaduct entering Southside.
The full renovation of the home was where the Phillips first invested in Hannibal, using their entire remodel budget to support local business and local contractors. All of the furniture in the Quarry House comes from local antique stores and malls.
The couple also employed young men and women who would walk by the property who were looking for work.
“If we needed extra hands, we would literally hire people off the street,” he said. “We were able to put dollars into the pockets of residents here and we are very proud of that.”
They deepened their commitment to Hannibal, especially to the Southside, when Charlie ran for city council.
“With Laurel and I being heavily connected with the Southside, we thought it was time to contribute in a greater way,” Charlie said. “So I ran for 4th ward council.”
Charlie and Laurel said the moment they crossed the bridge connecting downtown Hannibal to Southside, they knew they’d stumbled onto a special part of town.
“We fell in love with the house as well as the Southside,” said Laurel. “It was love at first sight.”
Charlie and Laurel have spent time researching both the home and the Hannibal area.
The Southside was once a stand-alone section of Hannibal thriving with local business but the area was hit hard when the economy dropped in the early 1990s.
“As far as I can tell, for about 30 years Hannibal had a serious economic issue. Most of the nation did too, but Hannibal being a tourism town, got hit really hard,” Charlie said. “Southside got hit the hardest and fell into a deep decline.”
With people losing their homes, property conditions on Southside went downhill and businesses left the area.
“A lot of transient and bad elements kind of migrated to the Southside,” he said.
Just like the Quarry House, which required an entire restoration before welcoming approximately 150 to 200 guests in its first year, the Phillips see Southside as a diamond in the rough.
They hope to use Charlie’s position as a councilman as a way to bring the Southside back to what it once was — to clean up the area, raise property values and get local businesses to return.
With the Quarry House along with the addition of the Snack Shack located just down the street, the Phillips believe positive change is something the Southside is ready for.
Through conversations with neighbors and friends, he has learned that many on the Southside want the downtown Southside district to be a destination rather than just a passage to other Hannibal attractions.
“If we can raise and elevate ourselves to the same level as our downtown center, there’s no reason we can’t join the two in the same way as the downtown enjoys,” he said. “We can raise the Southside to enjoy the same benefits for tourism and increase property values and people will enjoy coming here again.”
He recalled the statement, “A high tide raises all boats.”
“With the Quarry House, we can raise that a little bit. With the Snack Shack we can raise that a little bit more,” he said. “One more business, two more businesses, it doesn’t matter. It will continue to rise.”