Volume Thirty-Two

No. 6


November 1991





Mark your calendars now so as not to miss this year's Holiday Pot Luck Supper and the Annual Meeting of the Society.


Date & time:   Sunday, December 1, 1991 at 5:00 p.m.


Place:  Bethany Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall

Supper:  Please bring a dish to pass and your own dishes and silverware. Meat, rolls and coffee will be furnished.


Program:  A brass quintet under the direction of John Heath, the new director of the Batavia High School Band, will provide a musical program.




A short business meeting of the Society will precede the program.  Included will be the election of the following positions on the Board, each for a term of two years: vice-president, corresponding secretary, historian and two directors.


The following people are serving on the committee for the meeting:


Marilyn Robinson, Chairman;

Mary & Jerry Harris;

Dorothy Willey;

Teri & Lyle Bergmann;

Ruth Burnham;

and Patty Will.





Anyone else who can help with set-up before the dinner or who would be willing to assist with clean-up afterwards will be welcomed!  Particularly urgent is the need for a few men to help arrange the tables beforehand as those who normally have done this will not be available to do it this year. Please call Marilyn Robinson at 879-2253 if you can help! 





1. Twenty-five years ago a Batavian was elected to the Board of the newly-created junior college.  Who was it?


2. That same year (1966) saw the opening of a new public building in September.  What was it?


3. Thirty years ago a new residential building opened that adopted an historic name.  What was it?


4. Fifty years ago Batavia had a furniture manufacturing company.  What was it called and what national retailer owned it?





Five offices on the Society's Board of Directors are to be filled at the Annual Meeting in December. All terms are for two years. The positions to be filled, with incumbents in parentheses, are: Vice President (Marilyn Robinson); Corresponding Secretary (Georgene Kauth); Historian (Bill Wood); and two Directors (Bob Cox and Bob Popeck).


Suggestions and/or volunteers for any of the five positions are welcomed. Give the names to either Bob Phelps (879-1924) or Jerry Ruble (879-5444) by Nov. 15th for consideration by the Nominating Committee. Each of the incumbents has indicated a willingness to be reslated.





The Gammon home at the corner of Batavia Ave. and Wilson Street recently won a "painted lady" award from the American Paint Association. The building presently houses the Donali Boutique on the first floor and the residence of Joe and Addie Marconi on the upper floors.


Homes of the Queen Anne design were called “painted ladies” since the use of color was an important aspect of the exterior appearance. The award received was in recognition of Mr. Marconi's restoration of the exterior and the authenticity of the colors used on the intricate details of the home and its carriage house. In addition to the award and a plaque, the home will be featured in the midwest edition of the book entitled Painted Ladies. It also has been featured in local and Chicago newspapers.


The Gammon house was built in 1886 and has received a plaque from the Society.



In its earliest days the township with its annual town meeting provided what little local government was needed for Batavia.  By the mid-1850's the settlement had grown enough so that the voters decided they needed a change and voted to become a village in 1856.  With the adoption of this form of government with its president and board of trustees the community could manage its "urban" affairs separate from those of the "rural" parts of the township. This lasted until 1891 at which time the present city form of local government was adopted by referendum (following a number of previous attempts rejected by the voters.


What was Batavia like when it became an "urban center"? Probably the best picture we can have is the following excerpt from Ferslew's Kane County Gazetter, Directory and Business Advertiser for 1857:


"Batavia is now a beautiful village, has some fine mansions and many good dwellings and public works, among which is the newly erected stone building called the Car Factory owned by a Company; Smith's Reaping and Mowing Machine Factory; and, on the Island, is a large Carriage Factory, Mr. Newton, proprietor.  


On the East Side is a large Barrel Factory, owned by E. S. Town, and, in the same building, is a Sash, Door and Blind Manufactory, by E. Illsley. Also the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy R.R. runs through the East end of the Town. The Congregationalists and the Methodists have each built splendid churches on the West Side of the River.  In short, we cannot do better than refer our readers to the Directory to see all the improvements which are being made.


"The liquor traffic has always been subdued in Batavia and the citizens have Dr. Lord to thank for it, he is one of the most firm temperance men in the State. Dr. Lord is said to have a peculiar method of his own for liquor extermination, which works admirably and has a peculiar saddening effect upon the rumsellers."


The Directory goes on to list many of the occupations represented in Batavia including 10 blacksmiths, 5 carriagemakers, 29 carpenters, 6 coopers, 6 doctors, 14 farmers, 6 livery stable operators, 5 millers, 7 manufacturers, 10 masons, 38 merchants, 4 pastors, 4 painters,14 teamsters, 6 tailors, 4 wagonmakers, 7 woodmen and 1 quarryman and 4 stonecutters.


How time has changed the industries and occupations! All the industries listed except the CB&QRR have disappeared from town as have about half of the listed occupations.

The "Car Factory" mentioned by Ferslew was the Fox River Manufacturing Co. which built railroad box cars in the stone building on the southwest corner of Shumway/Island Ave. and First St. that today houses the Tutor Chiropractic offices and the Westbank Fitness Center. The finished box cars were placed on wagons and hauled to the CB&Q Railroad on the east side for shipment. The business was short-lived.


Smith's Reaping & Mowing Machine Factory was located on part of the site of the old U.S. Wind Engine & Pump Co. which today encompasses both the Batavia Plaza (Johnson's Drugs/ Walgreens/etc.) and the Batavia Enterprise buildings (stone buildings along S. Water St.) This may have been a successful business that had begun in a building located where Calvary Episcopal Church stands today.


The Carriage Factory was the Newton Wagon Co. which had moved to Batavia from New York in 1854 and was a major industry in Batavia for many years.  Its buildings were north of Wilson St. where the Island Plaza strip mall (Baskin-Robbins/ etc.) is situated.


The Barrel Factory stood on the property now occupied by the building containing the new River Street Crossing restaurant and Congressman Hastert's office. It was started by Hoyt & Smith in an existing building that had been a distillery earlier. The same building also served as a flax mill and was used to make sorghum before it burned down in 1864.



1.  Dr. Lucile Gustafson, former president and historian of our Society, was elected to the Waubonsee College Board of Trustees, a position she held for many years.


2.  September 1966 saw the opening of the new Batavia High School along with the former high school becoming a junior high. This changed the organization of our schools with the 7th and 8th grade students in their own building. Next fall will see another change when the 6th graders join the 7th and 8th graders in the new middle school and the old building on Batavia Ave & Wilson St. is sold.


3.  The Revere House apartments at Batavia Ave. and Elm St. opened in the fall of 1961, adopting the name of Batavia's former hotel that was located at the site of the present Benson, Mair & Gosselin law office.


4.  The Capital Furniture Co. was located in the old Appleton buildings on the island in 1941. It was owned and operated by Sears, Roebuck & Co. and was one of four Sears furniture factories. The firm opened in Batavia in 1939 and primarily made bedroom suites and breakfast sets. The manager was Dave Hauman, a member of the Society. 




In the process of organizing the Society's records, it has become apparent a number of items have been lost over the years. To avoid this in the future, copies of the minutes, newsletters, and other documents are now kept in duplicate.


One of the incomplete files is that of applications for plaques, and the listing of buildings which have received plaques was found to have omitted several such houses. I have checked as many records and references as I could find in an attempt to develop a complete list of plaqued buildings. The result is printed below.


If you know of any omissions or errors, please call Jim Hanson at 879-7492.






Meade/Blewett home

Carr/Gustafson home

McKee/Hall home

Lockwood Hall

Wm. Springborn home

Russell Nelson home

Sperry/Burnham home

Burnham/Kruger home

Roland Ely home

Calvary Episcopal Church

Depot Museum

Richard Lewis home

Town/Simone home

Wolcott/Allen home

Sperry/Allen home

Doty/Thorsen home

Nelson Burr home

C. B. Conde home

Safanda home

Sigrid Johnson home

Dorothy Ann Miller home

Judge Moore/Nelson home

Bellevue Place

Rev. Gammon/Marconi home

D. C. Newton home

Patterson/Jaeger home

Sheahan/Ellis home

Schuhow home

Scott Lencioni home

Kenyon/McGrath home

Wood/Rundle home



439 E. Wilson St.

1117 Main St.

345 N. Batavia Ave.

825 S. Batavia Ave.

635 Elm St.

420 McKee St.

433 Main St.

125 S. Lincoln

414 Main St.

222 S. Batavia Ave.

155 Houston St.

405 W. Wilson St.

505 Main St.

345 Union Ave.

33 S. Jefferson St.

346 Elm St.

318 N. VanBuren St.

210 N. Washington Ave.

226 N. VanBuren St.

403 Elm St.

230 N. Batavia Ave.

360 Main St.

333 S. Jefferson St.

9 S. Batavia Ave.

11 N. Batavia Ave.

419 Union Ave.

530 Main St.

123 N. Washington Ave.

316 Locust St.

130 N. Prairie St.

120 N. Washington Ave.






































Individual:  $3
Joint/Family:  $5
Sustaining:  $10+
Life (each):  $50
Business or Institutional:  $10


Prompt payment of dues is appreciated! All dues paid after November 1st will be considered payment for 1992.  If you plan to attend the annual meeting you may pay dues to the Treasurer at that time. If you would like to give a membership as a holiday gift, send the above information and dues to the Society indicating it is to be a gift and the membership card will be mailed to you so that you can enclose it with a personal card or note.