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Celebrate Preservation Week with Batavia Park District

Thu April 25, 2024

Learn about Batavia’s unique people and places during 2024 Preservation Week, April 28-May 4. This week celebrates the sights and spaces that make Batavia special. Learn more about the community you call home through a bar crawl, trolley tour, workshop and informal conversation about Batavia’s past.

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 “Preserving Identities.”

“Batavia is so proud of its identity,” said Batavia Depot Museum Director Kate Garrett.

“People really remember the places where they were part of a strong community: the High School, the Batavia Bowl, Holy Cross Church, Batavia Body Company, for example. During Preservation Week we want to celebrate the places and people that shaped how the community thinks of itself.  Unless people care about and protect those things, they often disappear to time.”

Preserving the things that give a place its identity is not just a Batavia issue. New this year is a Community Roundtable, featuring Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley and a special screening of “Love Letter to Cape Cod.” This 26-minute film, produced by Protect Our Past (POP), talks about the challenges to preserving the quintessential New England charm of Cape Cod. POP founder Ellen Briggs will be available for a live Q&A to kick off a conversation about preservation in Batavia. This free event takes place at the Peg Bond Center, May 1 at 10 a.m.

The museum’s popular “Cheers Through the Years” bar crawl returns on May 3, highlighting Batavia’s well-preserved downtown structures that now house watering holes such as Sidecar Supper Club & Beer Garden and Sturdy Shelter Brewing. 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.

“Shared public spaces like this shape a community’s identity. 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 well-crafted drink.”

The museum’s History Trolley: Batavia’s Greatest Hits tour on May 4 shows off architectural gems beyond Batavia’s downtown historic district. This hour-long History Trolley trip visits locations on the National Register of Historic Places, including landmarks like the former East Batavia School, now home to Barco Products and Music Matters School of Music. 

“The school was built in 1893 after a fire destroyed an earlier structure,” Garrett noted. “While the new building was under construction, local businesses opened their doors so students and teachers could continue their work. The whole community banded together to weather the tough times.”

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, and local trivia all week long.


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