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Depot Museum celebrating Batavia’s Black Heritage

Wed February 12, 2020

BATAVIA, IL – The Batavia Depot Museum will open for the season on March 2 with a new exhibit Community, Culture and Conversations; African American Heritage in Batavia. Learn why early African Americans decided to call Batavia home, and what their lives were like here after the Civil War to today. An Opening Reception will take place on March 5, 5:00-7:00 pm, located at 155 Houston Street. The exhibit will be on display through August 2.

The exhibit will highlight historic Batavians such as John Ozier and James Stewart, as well as share the stories from today’s African American community such as Ed and Ruth Tousana, Nicholas Brooks and Corey Williams. It was important for the Depot Curator, Amber Foster not only highlight the accomplishments of Batavians but explore how the African American Community helped shaped Batavia into the city it is today. 

“Black history is not just a month of history. It is every day. It’s American history. That is why it is important that the Depot continues to develop the narrative of the entire Batavia community.”

This exhibition, and the programming that accompanies it, represents a new effort to highlight some of Batavia’s lesser-known histories. According to Batavia Depot Museum Director, Jennifer Putzier, “This exhibit has been a long time coming, and is just the first step in our five-year plan of increased diversity and inclusion in the Depot Museum’s exhibits and collections.”  This exhibit invites community members to celebrate a different perspective. 

For more information about the exhibit or related programs, please contact Depot Museum staff by calling 630-406-5274 or visit Register for programs at

Related Programs:

Elizabeth Keckley, Seamstress, March 29, at 1:00 pm at the Civic Center Bartholomew Room, 327 W, Wilson Street. Free – Learn about Elizabeth Keckley, who is most well known as Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker. Keckley was an accomplished seamstress who bought her own freedom with her talents in 1855 and built a business that employed 20 women. The presentation brought to Batavia with the help of the Illinois Humanities Council.

Connection with Culture; History Biking Tour, May 1, 5:00 pm at the Lodge at Laurelwood, 800 N. River Street. The fee is $5. This tour will cover Northeast Batavia and point out places important to Batavia’s African American history. Please bring a bike you are comfortable with; Bicycle will not be provided.

About the Depot Museum:

The Batavia Depot Museum opened in 1975 as a joint 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. Open seasonally, March – mid-December. Hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 2:00-4:00 pm. The suggested admission is $5.