- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was submitted by Terry Emma, executive director of the Geneva History Museum.
In the early 1950s, the city of Geneva was trying to alleviate the business district’s parking problem. So William Valos, real estate developer and local business owner on North Third Street collaborated with the city to purchase land on the south side of Hamilton between Second and Third Streets for a public parking lot.
To make way for a portion of the parking lot, two homes needed to be removed. In 1953, the home on the corner of Second and Hamilton streets (28 North Second St. ) was moved to 1510 West State St. However, the fate of the home in the middle of the block (216 Hamilton St.) is unknown.
Valos’ interest in this venture was to expand his Third Street property and remodel his motor sales building into a larger facility for a national food chain.
The National Tea Company moved from 217 West State St. and held the grand opening of this new Third Street location in July, 1954.
The building itself was described as “a work of beauty, attractively constructed of stone and brick, with a large pylon reaching towards the sky. The whole building will be lighted at night with mercury vapor lamps, making it as bright as day.”
It featured pre-packaged, weighed and priced meats, a wide variety of nationally-known brands of canned goods, and produce that was kept fresh by modern equipment.
Comfort and convenience were key to the shopping experience National Tea provided for their customers. Air conditioning kept them cool, extra-large chrome shopping carts to fill with store bargains, and checkout was fast with the latest in mechanical devices.
The doors would open automatically when shoppers stepped on a magic mat to exit the building. And, of course, there was plenty of free parking so shoppers “may be spared every effort in their shopping.”
The National Tea Food Store stayed at the north Third Street location until 1965, when it moved to 716 West State St., a larger location on the northeast corner of State and Sixth Streets.
First National Bank
In 1967, First National Bank of Geneva moved from 130 West State St. to the vacated Third Street structure. The building was remodeled into a modern banking facility with drive-up and walk-up windows.
Various banking enterprises were located here until it was purchased by Ashland Ventures, LLC in 2014, and underwent an award-winning major renovation.
The rich history of the property has been honored, and is still alive in the building. Ashland Center’s transformation has received awards for preservation, sustainability and energy efficiency.
May 4 Open House!
In honor of May is Membership Month, the Geneva History Museum is hosting an Open House from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 4, at Ashland Center, 25 North Third St., to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the building .
Follow the teal balloons to several locations inside the building to learn fun facts about the original entrance, the reuse of the former bank drive-through and safe, and view original renderings of the 1960s bank design.
Guests will receive FREE admission to the Geneva History Museum from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day, and while at the museum, you can sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour of the archives and collections. RSVP not required.
For more information visit GenevaHistoryMuseum.org or call 630-232-4951.
Read The Kane County History Series!
- 1850-1925 Geneva — When Penmanship Was Mightier Than The Sword
- St. Charles Museum Site — From Serving Gas To Preserving History
- Elgin Puts 3,500 Priceless Photos Online
- Batavia-Inspired Miniatures Thrilled a Nation
- Aurora’s Maud Powell, World Famous Violinist
- Waxing Nostalgic on Geneva’s WGSB, WFXW
- American Doughboys of WWI — in St. Charles, IL
- Experience High-Tech History at April 21 ‘Open Elgin’ Event
- Batavia, IL — ‘Windmill Capital of The World’
- Meet Andy Aurora, Man About Town
- Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1 in Geneva
- Blue Goose And Evergreen Pub — ‘Shop Local’ 90 Years In The Making
- Elgin Is The Apple of Illinois Bicentennial’s Eye
- Nordens Soner And Batavia’s Swedish Society
- Aurora’s Melting Pot ‘Yearning To Breathe Free’
- Candles, Timing Devices, Phonographs And The ‘Life Cup’ — All Things Made in Geneva
- Hotel Baker, The ‘Masterpiece’ of The Fox Valley
- Elgin Celebrates Our Once-Burgeoning Dairy Business
- Reflections of Batavia’s Quarry Beach Pool
- Aurora’s Mabel O’Donnell, Author of “Alice And Jerry’ Books
- As Alice (Davis) Says, ‘Schools Out For Summer!’
- Elgin Watches, ‘The World’s Standard’
- Aurora Silverplate a Symbol of Good Taste
- Women Leaders Played Huge Roles in Geneva
- Nationally Renowned Summer Camp in St. Charles
- The Harrowing Story of William Lynch, Elgin’s Civil War Brigadier General
- Batavia Powered The Aurora, Elgin & Chicago Railway
- Corsets Doing Big Business in Aurora? Scandalous!
- One Block of Geneva Tells 1,001 Fantastic Stories
- St. Charles’ Evergreen Pub — The ‘Before’ Photos
- 1917-18 — When Elgin Artists Went to War
- Thomas Cleveland — Batavia’s Presidential Connection
- Do Your Wurst — Aurora Meat Markets Are ‘In’ Again
- Geneva Is The Place For Graveyards And Ghosts
- Visit Amelia Anderson At St. Charles’ North Side Cemetery
- Calling All Artists! … For a Cobblestone Reflection in Elgin
- Batavia’s 108-Year-Old Gazebo Still Lights The Way
- The Compelling, Tragic Story of Aurora’s Black WWI Hero Frank Boger
- Geneva History Museum Invites Artists To Celebrate Cultural Heritage
- Elgin’s Anson Clark Soared in The Great War … And Life
- What It Meant To Be a Patrol Boy and Louise White School
- ‘Men’s Night’ Christmas Shopping Was a 1950’s Aurora Phenomenon
- St. Charles Remembers Colson’s Christmas-Day Fire of ’33
- The Art of Elgin’s Cobblestone Reflections
- When Suffrage Met Prohibition in Batavia
- Geneva Presents The Art of The Fox River
- Blansford Astronomical Clock Is Aurora’s Treasure
- St. Charles Returns Family Heirlooms From WWII
- Museum Lands Painting By Elgin Artist Albert Kenney
- Cars Still Fixed at Historic Location in Downtown Batavia
- A Bird’s-Eye View of 19th Century Geneva
- Sheldon Peck: Kane County’s Connection To The Underground Railroad
- Elgin High School Celebrates 150 Years of ‘Education For All’
- Batavia’s Incredible Roller Skating History
- The Fabled History of Jewelry Stores in Geneva
- Astonishing Buried Treasure Discovered in Aurora Outhouse
- Lincoln Elementary School in St. Charles Celebrates 90 Years of Education
- Remembering Elgin High Grad, Renowned Composer Daniel Brewbaker, 1951 – 2017
- Meet Batavia’s Sharron Moran, LPGA Star, ‘Most Beautiful Golfer’ of 1966