The Batavia Depot Museum opened in 1975 as a cooperative effort between the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Historical Society. The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was the first of its kind built in 1854 and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside, the city's past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place.

Saving the Depot in the early 1970s was an effort that involved all Batavians. Though contributions and generous matching funds from Furnas, $31,000 was raised to move the historic structure from its original location at the corner of Van Buren and Webster street to its current location on Houston Street, a total of 9 blocks, one hill, and one bridge! Moving day, October 11, 1973, was such an event, even school children were let out of class to see the Depot traveling to its new home. Over the years, the Depot has increased the number of exhibits and even space with the addition of the Gustafson Research Center in 2000.

Virtual Tour

Our institutional mission:

Through collecting, preserving, interpreting and exhibiting the history of Batavia, the Batavia Depot Museum forever captures and preserves the accomplishments of Batavians, while enriching public knowledge and creating leisure and educational opportunities for the community.

For current happenings at the Depot, please check out our events page and follow us on social media!

Museum Displays

Spring & Summer Exhibits - Refraction: Finding Identity and Inspiring Expression

Opens: March 2

"Refraction: Finding Identity" delves into the changing norms of identity and celebrates the stories of Batavians who have forged their own paths throughout our history. Do you know if it was great-grandfather, or his sister, wearing that beautiful gown in the family portrait as a young child? Which first lady cemented the idea of pink for girls and blue for boys? You'll uncover those answers and learn so much more!

"Inspiring Expression" demonstrates how Batavians of all skills levels from the prehistoric period to the present day have used visual arts to express themselves and their view of the world. Visitors will have the unique opportunity to look inside the Museum's collection of rarely seen visual artworks, which were created and treasured by Batavians!


1907 Caboose - The 1907 Chicago Burlington and Quincy Caboose has been outfitted to look as it did back when it was in service. Discover why cabooses were necessary to early trains and about the men who worked them!

Coffin Bank - William Coffin used this small shed in the backyard of his grand home for the very first bank in Batavia, opened 1856. Learn more about Batavia's banking history inside!

Batavia's Railroads - Batavia was the home to many railroads, and each has an important place in the civic and industrial life of the community. This exhibit chronicles the early railroads in Batavia and the Depot's early days.

Mary Todd Lincoln and Bellevue Place - After she was legally declared insane, Mary Todd Lincoln was sent to Bellevue Place in Batavia and put in the care of Dr. Richard Patterson. Here you can learn more about the sanitarium, Mary Todd Lincoln, and see the bed she slept in while being treated.

The VanNortwick Room - The VanNortwicks had a strong hand in shaping early Batavia into the town it is today. Take a glimpse into the family's life and discover their many contributions to settling Batavia and bringing prominent industries to town, such as the railroad and several windmill manufacturers.

Little Town in a Big Woods - Based on the synonymous book by Marilyn Robinson, this exhibit chronicles the early days of Batavia, focusing on settlement and industrial growth of the area.

Gustafson Research Center

Our research center houses an extensive archive of Batavia history, including over 10,000 photographs. The public is invited to visit during the center's open hours, make an appointment outside these hours, or email research requests directly to bataviahistorian@gmail.com.

*Beginning on March 2, the Gustafson Research Center will be open from 2:00-4:00 pm on Mondays and Fridays, or by appointment. Please call 630-406-5274 to schedule an appointment.

There is no charge to use the facility, but there may be additional reproduction fees.

The Batavia Depot Museum offers a variety of programming for all ages throughout the year. Check out fun ways to learn more about the history of Batavia!

Spring Opening Reception

Friday, March 4, from 5:00-7:00 pm

Batavia Depot Museum, 155 Houston St.

Please join Batavia Depot Museum staff for a special viewing of our two spring exhibits, "Refraction: Finding Identity" and "Inspiring Expression," during our Spring Opening Reception. This special event will be hosted at the Batavia Depot Museum. The Museum campus is located at 155 Houston St. along the lovely Batavia Riverwalk. This event is free, and provides an opportunity to speak with staff about these exceptional exhibits.

"Refraction" is a groundbreaking exhibit that delves into the changing norms of identity, clothing styles, and how so much of LGBTQ+ history remains silenced because of self-censorship and bias. "Inspiring Expression" is an eclectic display showing how Batavians used visual arts to express themselves throughout time.


The Demise of Mary Lincoln: An Artistic conspiracy

Friday, March 25, 6:00-7:00 pm via Zoom

*This event has been canceled. Our sincere condolences to Mr. Bauman's family.

In the 19th century, the court of public opinion depicted Mary Lincoln as both a sainted war widow and a vilified spendthrift. Battles to control how she, and by extension her family, were viewed seemed to reflect the anxieties of a deeply conflicted nation. In one extraordinary case of hidden identity, Mary Lincoln's image was so powerful, it trapped another woman under layers of paint and varnish for nearly 100 years. Hear this remarkable story from the man who uncovered the truth, professional art conservationist Barry Bauman.

Register here


Preservation Week events

Monday, April 11 through Saturday, April 16

Batavia Depot Museum and sites throughout the community


Cheers Through the Years

Friday, April 15, 7:00-9:00 pm

A 21+ only event

Fee: $10


Grab your friends for a history-flavored night of 21+ fun in downtown Batavia. Check in at Batavia Depot Museum between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm to pick up your wristband and map. Then head out to meet the barkeeps who tend some of Batavia's best old properties still in use and sample specials designed just for the occasion.

(sub)urban Adventure Tour

Saturday, April 16, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Fee: $20 for a day-long trolley pass


Calling all (sub)urban explorers! Have you ever been curious about the unseen areas of Batavia's century-old buildings? Get a taste of urban exploring during a day of investigating places not usually seen by the public. Navigate between locations on the trolley, or pick up a map at Batavia Depot Museum and find your own way.

*All participants will follow the Urban Explorer Code of Ethics and take nothing but pictures, while leaving nothing but footprints.

Hands-On Your History: Artifact Petting Zoo

Saturday, April 16, 12:00-4:00 pm



Don't touch? Don't worry. These artifacts are OK to play with at Depot Museum. We'll learn the reasons why some items at the Museum are touchable and some things aren't, as well as how to take care of your own treasures at home.

Register here


Batavia History Trolley Tours

Friday, May 6, 6:00 pm

and

Sunday, May 15, 1:30 pm

Batavia Depot Museum


Take a ride on the Park District's historic, open-air trolley for a guided tour of Batavia's history. Tours last 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic and are $15.

Register here


Mamie Eisenhower: The Hostess in Chief

Sunday, May 15, 3:00-4:00 pm

The Lodge at Laurelwood, 800 N. River St.

When Mamie Eisenhower - with her reputation as the ideal homemaker, Army wife, mother, and grandmother - wore a delicate, spangled-pink gown to her husband, Ike's, Inaugural Ball, it inspired homemakers everywhere and christened Mamie Pink as the height of domestic femininity. During this one-hour engaging portrayal, you can visit with Mamie, sample her favorite fudge recipe, and learn about her life. Find out what it was like living in Panama and the Philippines between the world wars and about her loving relationship with Ike, which weathered horrible rumors and long separations. And oh! Those bangs!

Register Here

Video Series: Unlocking the Vault

Want to learn more about some of our artifacts? Check out our monthly "Unlocking the Vault" video series! The videos go into depth about the objects and provide fun facts about the history behind them. Make sure to check out these videos on The Batavia Park District YouTube page to gain some knowledge about Batavia's rich history!