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Delve into Batavia resilient past during Preservation Week

Mon April 24, 2023

Learn about Batavia’s resilient people and places during 2023 Preservation Week, April 30-May 6. Batavia Depot Museum will host two architecture-focused events, a downtown bar crawl featuring the city’s oldest buildings and a hidden history trolley tour of storied sites outside downtown.

Preservation Week highlights the importance of local history and inspires residents to preserve their personal, family and community collections for future generations. This year’s theme is “Building Resilient Communities.”

"There's something very magical about being able to dip into the lived experience of those who came before us,” said Batavia Depot Museum Director Kate Garrett.

“Preserving historic buildings, especially, is a huge economic boon to a community,” she said. “Not only are the buildings often visually interesting and attractive, which draws people in, but they also reduce start-up costs for investors and merchants with new ideas, and have positive environmental impacts."

The museum’s popular “Cheers Through the Years” bar crawl returns on May 5, highlighting Batavia’s well-preserved downtown structures that now house watering holes such as Sidecar Supper Club & Beer Garden.

Sturdy Shelter Brewing, a taproom that opened in 2022 with beer brewed on the premises, joins the tour this year. “Their creations often nod to Batavia history in their names from their Big Woods IPA to their Collider fruited wheat ale,” Garrett said. Non-alcoholic options will also be offered.

The taproom’s building on Shumway Avenue is a perfect example of how a structure evolves over time with adaptive reuse, Garrett said. It was the city’s Music Hall and Opera House in the 1880s, hosting concerts, plays, public meetings, special events and even roller skating. Then it housed a print shop, before becoming a movie theater that closed in 1957. A new owner purchased and renovated the building in 2006.

“In the 1880s Batavians could meet up with friends and family at the Music Hall for opera, public meetings and special events. This year, folks can visit the exact same spot on the bar crawl to enjoy music and a drink. The site has gone through almost 150 years of destruction, rebuilding, and repurposing, but it's still part of our resilient community."

The museum’s (sub)urban Adventure Tour on May 6 uncovers hidden histories of buildings outside Batavia’s downtown historic district. This hour-long History Trolley trip highlights landmarks such as the towering Campana Building on Batavia Avenue. Constructed by the Campana Company in 1936, this elegant state-of-the-art structure became a marketing tool for the company, which produced cosmetics. “A lovely, modern building must make lovely, modern products,” Garrett said.

“The Campana Factory is a prime early example of American Streamline Moderne architecture, which developed the stylized geometry of Art Deco into a simplified, aerodynamic aesthetic,” she noted.

Within the walls of these structures featured on the tours, people worked, played and commiserated, Garrett said. "One of the most comforting things about connecting with history is the way it reminds us that people all across time and place have weathered their own challenges in ways we probably recognize.”

Preservation Week is presented by the Batavia Depot Museum, Batavia Historical Society, Batavia Public Library and Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley. Follow their social media for fun facts, hidden histories, local trivia and pop-up experiences all week long.

For more information on our Batavia Park District programs and events, visit