caboose

Connect with us!

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

Virtual Tour VISIT THE GIFT SHOP register for museum programs

stories we tell

spring exhibit: markets and meals
March-July

All Ages

Free

This exhibit explores the essential role grocers, butchers and bakers have played in the health of Batavia from the city's early days of general stores to today's big box retailers. With intriguing artifacts, an interactive play space, photos and stories, museum visitors from March to July will learn more about the stores that have kept Batavia fed. Visitors will also learn how fragile our food systems cab be and how Batavians have helped each other weather times of want. When America mobilized fort he war effort in the 1940s, ration books and Victory Gardens helped ensure there was enough for all. Small grocers extended credit and churches organized mutual aid. Find out how Batavians today are fighting food insecurity in our own backyard.


Upcoming stories

Batavia through the Artist's Brush

Fall 2024
All Ages

The museum will welcome visitors with a Fall hug of color and familiar sites. From August to November, visitors will have a unique opportunity to see paintings from the museum's collection in "Batavia Through the Artist's Brush." For generations, artists in Batavia and the surrounding fox valley have captured their unique perspectives of Batavia's landscape in paint. Come see these beautiful artworks and learn the history behind some of the favorite sites, including our very own Batavia Depot Museum.


legacy STORIES

History Garden - Opening June 2024! A new permanent outdoor exhibit celebrating the horticultural history of Batavia gets its official grand opening this summer. Visitors can even get hands-on and help plant the last vegetable seeds in the kitchen garden area of the exhibit.

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.

museum programs

The Batavia Depot Museum offers a variety of programming for all ages throughout the year. We look forward to you taking part and learning more about Batavia history.

programs & special events

The museum hosts various special programs and events throughout the year. Check out the current and upcoming offerings in the Fun Guide or follow us on social media. Registration is required for certain programs and events. Click on links to register.

Mark your calendars:

History Garden Ribbon Cutting - June 1

10-11 a.m. Free Event at History Garden outside Depot Museum
Celebrate summer at the Batavia Depot Museum and inaugurate the new outdoor exhibit: The Heritage Garden. Learn about historical horticulture, from native planting to modern management methods.


Wild Boar to Baconfest: Pigs in History & Popular Culture: June 20
10-11 a.m., $12/person.
Food writer and historian Cynthia Clampitt returns to Batavia Depot Museum for a new fascinating food history topic: The Humble Pig. Learn how pigs and park have impacted the world, especially the Midwest, and why Sandburg would call Chicago "Hog Butcher for the World." Clampitt's entertaining and educational one-hour lecture is a perfect companion to the Museum's Markets and Meals exhibit.


Batavia through the Artist's Brush Exhibit Opening - August 9
6-8 p.m. Free Event!
Join museum staff and your neighbors for a fun night of new discoveries at the Batavia Depot Museum for our Fall exhibit "Batavia through the Artist's Brush." This exhibit will feature beautiful artworks in the museum's collection that capture unique views of Batavia's changing landscape. Come see the works and learn the history behind some of the favorite site, including our vey own depot.


Wayback Wheels Car Show at Block Party - September 1
4-9 p.m., $15/vehicle or Free to look!
We're bringing history storytelling to the streets of Batavia. The Batavia Depot Museum is hosting the car show for our community's annual Block Party! The Batavia Depot Museum will have extended hours and you will have a chance to enjoy the other festivities of Block Party including local eats and live music! The museum's famous open-air trolley will also be on display. This will be a fun community activity and an opportunity to celebrate the history that drives past us on the roads each day.
Want to show off your vehicle? Sign up for $15/vehicle! Registration includes one entry to Block Party ($5 value) and contributes to the public choice awards "People's Choice" & "History on the Road." Limited spots, so sign-up early.


Foxy Lady No. 9 image

Batavia History Trolley Tours


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 $22/person. In event of inclement weather, attendees will be notified and offered to reschedule.

Tours available April - October

Register here


Cemetery walk

Join museum for a respectful through Batavia's Cemetery and hear interesting stories about the former residents of the city. Tours last 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic and are $20/person. Walks happen rain or shine, so please dress accordingly.

Tours available May & October

REGISTER HERE


Private Trolley Tour

Private Trolley Tours

Call Batavia Depot Museum staff at 630-406-5274 to schedule a private trolley tour, with the personal touch!

the "gus"

The Gustafson Research Center (The 'Gus") houses an extensive archive of Batavia history, including over 10,000 photographs, family biographies, Batavia publications, and more. The public is invited to visit during museum's open hours, make an appointment outside these hours, or email research requests directly to museum@bataviaparks.org.

The Gus shares the museum's hours. Appointments are highly encouraged if you would like help with your research, or are new to The Gus. Research Assistants are usually available Mondays and Fridays from 2-4 p.m. Please call 630-406-5274 or email museum@bataviaparks.org to schedule an appointment.

There is no charge to use the facility.

What is available at The Gus?

Check out our most up-to-date inventory here

  • Manufacturer's catalogs
  • Personal letters and diaries
  • Scrapbooks
  • Local directories
  • Previous research material and notes
  • Yearbooks and school publications
  • Fox Valley Mirror
  • Maps
  • Probate records
  • Copies of books available in the Gift Shop
  • Photographs
  • Obituaries and genealogies
  • Books by Batavia authors
  • Other items available on a case-by-case basis. please call 630-406-5274 or email museum@bataviaparks.org to schedule an appointment
Can I make copies or take photographs?
Researchers are welcome to take photographs of material for personal use. Image use is restricted in all other circumstances. Please call 630-406-5274 or email museum@bataviaparks.org to speak with a museum representative about image use.

about the museum

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 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.

OUR COLLECTION

Our museum is home to historical objects related to the history of Batavia from industry to daily life. Museum staff interpret these artifacts through exhibits and programs to tell the stories of our town and the greater history of the Fox Valley. These objects can be industry tools, company memorabilia, clothing and accessories, school artifacts, military gear, personal letters and diaries, and much more.
Want to learn more about some of our artifacts? Check out our "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!

Interested in donating something to the collection? We highly recommend sending an email to the curator at museum@bataviaparks.org with pictures to consider artifact.

about the Batavia historical society

The Batavia Historical Society and the Batavia Park District have been community partners in the Batavia Depot Museum in 1975.
Founded in 1969, the Society has cared for Batavia history for generations of community residents. Along with supporting the Museum, the society holds membership meetings, publishes the Historian and other books on Batavia history, and advocates for the preservation of history.