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. In March of 2017, the Batavia Historical Society launched the Depot Expansion Project, with the goal of adding a new, modern exhibit space, storage, and reception area to welcome Batavians and introduce visitors to our rich history. They are working toward the 2 million dollar fundraising goal, with planned construction for 2022. If you'd like to learn more about our expansion plans, please visit the Batavia Historical Society's expansion page (http://www.bataviahistoricalsociety.org/expansion-project/)
With your help, we can continue to fulfill our institutional mission:
Through collecting, preserving, interpreting and exhibiting the history of Batavia, the Batavia Depot Museum memorializes 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!
Summer Exhibit - 50 Years of Fun: Celebrating the Batavia Park District - This exhibit will take a look at the beginnings of the Batavia Park District, and show how much we've grown! This is exhibit is up until December 13.
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 exhibits 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 (2-4pm, Monday Wednesday and Friday), make an appointment outside these hours, or email research requests directly to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
We're taking the Museum outdoors! This summer, check out how our garden grows and learn about the importance of Victory Gardens in home-front efforts of WWI and WWII. This is a 2018 IAM Award Winning Exhibit.
Batavia History Trolley Tours
Take a ride on the Park District's historic open-air trolley while experiencing a guided tour of Batavia's history! Tours last 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic, and we will deliver you back to the Depot in time to visit the exhibits at your leisure. Space is limited for this unique opportunity, so sign up early!
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!