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      Inside Quincy's past: The Villa Kathrine

      It's escaped the wrecking ball at least three times during its 114 years of existence.

      Today, it's become a center for tourists who visit the Gem City.

      Welcome to the Villa Kathrine -- built for Quincy native and world traveler William George Metz in 1900.

      "He traveled for three years over in that part of the country, the Mediterranean and Morocco, and came back with drawings of photographs, furnishings and engaged a local architect to build the Villa Kathrine," Board Member Donna Haire said. "George built this, I believe, because he built what he loved. He traveled around the world three times in his lifetime, so he saw all kinds of architecture."

      Haire said the Villa Kathrine's exterior is modeled after a villa in Morocco. The interior has a number of interesting features, including a harem room and a courtyard with an overlooking balcony surrounding a marble mosaic reflecting pool. Metz paid $7000 to have it built in 1900.

      "The Cruishank Mansion was going up at exactly the same time in 1900," she said. "It also has a Moorish room in it. My question has always been, what was the fascination of Moorish architecture back in 1900? He didn't want for anything because he had a heating source in every room. He had a coal furnace, running water, gas lighting, sunken copper tub and it was just him and the dog."

      Metz's dog, Bingo, was his sole companion at the Villa Kathrine.

      "He came from Denmark," Haire said. "He was 6 feet from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail. George kept him at a fighting weight of 212. When he died, he was laid out in the parlor and the casket and Bingo weighted 300 pounds. He's buried on the grounds somewhere. We don't know where. No one has ever found him."

      The Villa Kathrine is now home to the Quincy Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Quincy's tourism center and an interpretive center on the Great River Road. It also has become a hot spot for parties, rehearsal dinners and weddings.

      "Come visit us. I hear this all the time -- people who live in Quincy who say I've never been inside," Haire said. "They are so pleased and happy when they come in and take a look around at this beautiful building."

      You might wonder why the villa is named, "Kathrine."

      George Metz was asked that.

      He laughed but never answered the question.