Last year, the Batavia Historical Society launched the Depot Museum Expansion Fundraising Campaign, embarking on the most ambitious improvement to the Batavia Depot Museum since its founding in 1975. The Historical Society has a five-year plan in place to raise two million dollars, and has a commitment from the Batavia Park District to cover any costs above that amount and to maintain the Depot Museum for future generations.
The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Depot has been a picturesque feature of Batavia since its construction in 1854, and it became Batavia’s museum in 1975. The Depot Museum has grown as steadily as Batavia itself. Originally, the museum exhibits were only on the first floor. In the early 1990s, the lower level was converted from the Depot Pond’s warming house to exhibit space. In 2000, the Gustafson Research Center was added, giving the archives a home and researchers a comfortable place to work.
The proposed addition will double the museum’s space, and is designed to the unique Gothic Revival style of the historic depot. To make room for the building, the museum campus will expand – the CB&Q Caboose, Coffin Bank and US Wind Engine and Pump Water Tower will be relocated to the west side of the Fox River Trail. New landscaping will incorporate the green spaces adjacent to the path, creating a place for relaxation.
Upon entering the museum, visitors will be greeted with an airy, light-filled space, which will take full advantage of the view of the Depot Pond. The hall will also feature an expanded Batavia-themed gift shop and information about where to eat, shop and have fun in Batavia. A new, 800-square-foot special exhibit hall will feature a variety of larger scale changing exhibits, and allow the flexibility of having meetings or presentations in the depot.
The Depot Museum has a tradition of being community built and supported. When the building was moved to its present location on Houston Street, it’s estimated that half the town contributed to the effort. With this addition, you, too, can contribute to preserving the history of Batavia.
If you’d like to contribute to the effort or get involved, visit www.bataviahistoricalsociety.org to donate, view upcoming events or learn more about Batavia’s rich history.