Volume Eighteen

No. 1


Batavia, IL, P.O. Box 15

(It's time to renew your membership!)

Regular Open Meeting


Time:  February 13, 1977   
 Business Meeting
  3:30  Social Hour
  4:00  Program
Place:  The Bartholomew Civic Center


Program: Demonstrations of Handicrafts



Basket Weaving: Mr. Arnold Baumez, who learned his craft in Germany, first as an apprentice worker in reeds and then as a master, gives an informational demonstration and description of his techniques.  His products are handsome.



 Weaving and Spinning: Mrs. Don Wolf and Mrs. Clayton keep up a running chatter about their activities as they explain the whole clothmaking process.  The end products are soft and beautiful ... and desirable.


3. If time permits, Lorraine Baxter will demonstrate macrame; she's very skillful.  It is through her courtesies that these artisans were engaged.


(Let's hope for good weather, for their things must be transported from Aurora in a truck).




Condolences are extended to the families of two of the finest men that the Society ever enrolled, namely, Evan D. James and Philip Carlson, both of whom recently died.  Batavia has no citizens more upright, honorable, or amiable.  They will be missed greatly. 


Historical Notes


The Pond Bridge


Pete Swanson's search for a picture of the Pond Bridge, as it was called in an 1885 fire map, has an interesting background. The present shopping center was a slough in 1834-5 and owned by young Mr. Joel McKee. (This was in the days when he still lived in a log cabin, a long time before he was wealthy enough to build his fine Italianate home, the present Wm. Hall home at 345 North Batavia Avenue). He was not a member of the "adventurers," a partnership of York staters, who unbeknownst to him got a franchise from the state to build a dam. 


These men, VanNortwick, Alanson House (202 Adams), Colonel Barker (508 N. Washington) and Churchill (Elm and Water) tried to purchase the swamp of McKee and did acquire it finally for they knew that the holder could construct a second dam, giving keen competition to the upriver dam. They transformed the slough into a pond by first draining it and then dumping the dirt in back of the present Junior High School.


They built a mill race at the southwest corner, ultimately furnishing power to run the large paper mill (Batavia Container), the U. S. Windmill and Pump Company (south end abutting First Street) (still standing) and the paper bag company (Foland Bowling Alleys).


In 1876 a bridge with stone arches replaced the embankment so that one could merrily skate under the arches to the north end of the pond.  In about 1905 the bridge was widened . . . the skaters still swooping happily under the arches which now had concrete pillars beside the limestone ones to support the wider bridge. Mr. Swanson, employed by Rempe Sharpe and Associates to widen Wilson Street, and responsible for the drawing of construction, needed a picture to corroborate his boyhood memory.  


Two were helpful, one contributed by Mrs. Warden of Kaneville and another with sharp details given by Mr. Robert Popeck. A conversation with Mr. Claude Hanson, who worked with Supervisor Lamb on the project, gave more assistance.


All this was needed because when the pond was filled in, about 1964, to make the shopping center, the bridge was covered. The construction drawing could not be found in order to connect the wider Wilson Street with the old bridge supports. Thanks to the newspapers' stories, the puzzle was solved.

The Old Church School: Call it what you may, according to your association with it: the first Methodist Church built in 1852; the church-school purchased by the Board of Education in 1888 (Miss Grace McWayne had the primary grades taught in this building because she thought that the little ones should be separated from the "big" people in the big beautiful Victorian limestone West side school); the manual training building; the School for Exceptional Children, and then back to classroom use again until it was rightfully declared unsafe as a school.  It still remains one of the most beautiful structures in the Fox Valley, both because of its Greek Revival design and because of the excellence of its workmanship.


Now it is on the market.  What to do with it? It may be transferred privately on negotiated terms to another tax-supported institution or it must be sold at public auction . . . that's the law.  The Historical Society is sponsoring discussions that hopefully, through the joint efforts of several groups, will result in a financially sound program.  One meeting was held January 20.  Another open meeting will be conducted February 8, at 12:30 in the Batavia Public Library.  All persons are invited, especially those with $60,000, an idea as to its profitable use, or information as to a group that might possibly rent an upstairs room for a continuous period of time, for regular meetings or for occasional conferences.  Information as to possible money grants is welcome.



The Historical Society extends thanks to Harold Miller for auditing the treasurer's books and finding them correct.


The Society awaits the opportunity to thank you, February 13, when you pay your dues . . . or they may be mailed to P.O. Box 15, Batavia . . . $3.00 single; $5.00 tandem.


MOST IMPORTANT . . . The Batavia Depot Museum will be closed during the month of February because of the bitter cold weather.


Warmly,    L.G.