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.
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!
Spring & Summer Exhibits - Refraction: Finding Identity and Inspiring Expression
Open: March - August
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Beginning on June 1, 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!
Special trolley tours
Call Batavia Depot Museum staff at 630-406-5274 to schedule a private trolley tour, with the personal touch!
Batavia History Trolley Tours
Friday, June 3, 6:00 pm
Sunday, June 12, 1:30 pm
Friday, July 1, 6:00 pm
Friday, August 5, 6:00 pm
Sunday, August 14, 1:30 pm
Friday, September 2, 6:00 pm
Sunday, September 11, 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.
The Fall exhibit will be powerful
City of Energy - The Forces that Built Batavia
August - December
Batavia Depot Museum, 155 Houston St.
From windmills to steam engines, dams to particle accelerators, Batavia's history is filled with movement and the devices that people made to help make work easier for each generation. This new exhibit explores the natural forces that have built Batavia, from the work of our community's early engineers and inventors, up through the contributions made by their modern-day counterparts. Take a look at how they utilized wind, water and steam power--all of the forces that were harnessed to build Batavia!
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!