Kane County History: A Brief History of The Batavia Historical Society

Kane County History: A Brief History of The Batavia Historical Society

  • Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article takes a look at the history of the Batavia Historical Society, which is nearing the 61st anniversary of its first organizational meeting, held on Jan. 17, 1960.

Although there was an attempt to start a historical society as early as 1911, the society as it is today began on Nov. 17, 1959, when 22 men and women met to discuss the preservation of Batavia’s history.

John Gustafson, a collector and chronicler of past events and people, presided over the meeting. Raymond Patzer, Martha Wood, and Robert Glidden were appointed to draw up a constitution, nominate officers, prepare a listing of charter members, and consider the possibility of establishing a museum.

An organizational meeting was held Jan. 17, 1960, in the Congregational Church with 45 founding members present. The next month a meeting was held at the First Baptist Church with 110 members present.

By the end of the year, the society had 240 charter members. Today there are more than 550 members.

Through the cooperation of the Batavia Park District and the society, the Depot Museum is maintained where artifacts collected since 1960 are preserved, stored, and displayed.

In keeping with its mission, one of the on-going projects of the society is the plaquing of buildings, dating back 100 years or more. The first plaque was awarded in 1961 at 229 East Wilson St.

The society has collected many paper archives, books, and photographs that record the history of the city and its families. A major acquisition is a collection of 160 boxes of old court records from Kane County. Especially helpful to those doing family research, they have supplied answers to many elusive historical questions.

All of these documents and photographs are available for public study in the Gustafson Research Center that opened in October 2000.

A recent project sponsored by the society is the placement of 18 historic plaques along the Riverwalk. These contain pictures showing what the viewer would have seen from that spot many years ago. Others explain the restored windmills along the walk.


The mission of the society as determined in 1960 still holds true today.

  • The discovery, preservation, & dissemination of knowledge about the history of Batavia, Kane County, Illinois.
  • To collect & preserve books, pamphlets, papers, photographs, relics, & other historical objects.
  • To receive by gift, grant, bequest, devise or purchase books, museums, moneys, real estate, & other property.
  • To encourage the preservation of historical monuments & buildings & to suitably mark them.
  • To publish historical material in newspapers, pamphlets, & books.
  • To hold meetings with addresses, lectures, papers, & general discussions.

SOURCE: Batavia Historical Society website.

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