Kane County History: Geneva Celebrates 100 Years of The Little Traveler

Kane County History: Geneva Celebrates 100 Years of The Little Traveler

  • 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.


Outdoor courtyard of The Little Traveler where daily luncheons and fashions shows took place.  This area has since been enclosed and now serves as the linen and light department.

Kate Howard grew up with a love of travel and adventure through her experience with her father’s Howard Shipyards.

Kate Raftery

Kate and Edmond Raftery came to Geneva in 1915 and later purchased the home at 404 S. Third St.

Kate had several connections with counts and ambassadors who brought her rare and unique items from all over the world. She displayed these items on her grand piano and invited friends over to purchase them.

On Sep. 29, 1922, it was announced in The Geneva Republican newspaper that “The Raftery cottage will hereafter be the home of the Geneva Gift Shop, under the supervision of Mrs. Edmond Raftery.”

The first Little Traveler Cash Book from 1922 that records all financial transactions.

At the age of 52 and with no previous business experience, Kate Howard Raftery started Geneva’s Little Traveler.

The Little Traveler was the first residence turned business on South Third Street, and Kate encouraged others to start their own businesses, including the famous Mill Race Inn, Robin’s Book Shop and Marian Michael’s Children’s Clothing Shop.

The Geneva History Museum invites you to come explore the story of this 100-year-old business that put Geneva on the map as a high fashion, antique mecca and artsy town.

View Kate’s going-away wedding coat, puppets used to entertain children, and hand-painted dressing room doors by world-renown artist, William Moulis. Discover the many additions to the original home and view samplings of The Little Traveler’s seasonal newsletter, The Almanack.

Admission includes the Main Gallery, “Geneva’s Story.” Exhibition visitors will receive a shopping coupon to The Little Traveler, compliments of the shop.

The museum is currently closed in January to prepare this exhibit. Gallery hours will resume from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5.

The Little Traveler was well known throughout the Chicago area as the place for high fashion, and apparently, free parking.

Photograph of the original house at 404 S. Third St.

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