The mission of the Batavia Public Library is to provide and ensure access to materials and services to meet the lifelong learning needs of residents and organizations, as well as to create a welcoming place to gather, exchange ideas, and participate in cultural events.
In support of this mission, the Board of Trustees of the Batavia Public Library District welcomes the acquisition of art for its permanent collection, and the display of art from its permanent collection, in order to enrich the Library and provide a more culturally diverse place to gather.
Chapter One | Pediment Murals | Sarah Gammon Portrait | Abraham Lincoln Portrait |
Watercolors | Batavia Public Library Sign | Fox River Ice-Skating | Wildly Happy Reading Together
Chapter One, a sculpture by artist Kai Schulte, adorns the wall at the top of the stairs to the lower level. The sculpture was purchased by the Batavia Public Library Development Fund in 2007.
Kai [Uwe] Schulte (1960—) Chapter One, 2006 stainless steel. Collection of the Batavia Public Library District.
Kai Uwe Schulte was born in Lϋdenscheid, Germany, seat of the Märkischer Kreis [district] in the state of North Rhine–Westphalia. He settled in the tri-City area in 1982 and now lives in Sugar Grove, Illinois. He trained as a blacksmith and served his apprenticeship with a maser smith in Lϋdenscheid. As an artist and metalsmith, Schulte now creates sculpture and highly detailed interior design elements n a variety of media, including wrought iron, brass, copper, glass, and of course, stainless steel.
Two pediment murals were installed in the Library's Great Hall in August, 2008. The murals were created by Chicago artist Thomas K. Melvin, a renowned painter and muralist, and funded by gifts from the Roger W. Johnson Foundation, Rotary Club of Batavia, and the Friends of the Batavia Public Library.
A Pediment Mural brochure including the mural details and description, and more information about the artist is available at the Library.
In honor of the City of Batavia and the 175th anniversary of its settlement, the southern pediment mural represents the history of Batavia. The mural includes the stars and stripes of the U.S. flag refelected in a dental mirror—a tribute to a Batavia dentist and the "Father of Flag Day," ice skaters on the Fox River, a smokestack from the Challenge Company, a scientist, a fisherman, and more.
The mural’s central image features an American-style windmill. In place of the vane usually found on a fixed-wheel windmill, there is a windmill weight, which represents “the heart of Batavia.” Pick up a free copy of Windmill City: A Guide to the Historic Windmills of Batavia, Illinois, which provides descriptions of Batavia’s windmills and the companies that manufactured them, at the Library.
At the far left, a tenacious bulldog pulls on a rope. Is an arch-rival on the other end? Batavia High School has been the home of the Bulldogs since 1945.
Strawberry shortcake, Huckleberry pie V–I–C–T–O–R–Y Are we in it? Well I guess, Batavia High School, Yes yes yes!
The dancers are dressed for a barn dance. Nonetheless, everyone is invited to dance at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory! There is folk dancing in the Village Barn every week as four different groups meet to dance at Fermilab—barn dancing, with traditional American contra and square dances; international folk dancing, featuring line, circle, couple, trio, and group dances, primarily from Europe and the Middle East; Scottish country dancing, and English country dancing.
Below the dancers, subatomic particles represent the work of the four-mile Tevatron, the world’s highest-energy particle accelerator, at Fermilab. Its 1,000 superconducting magnets are cooled by liquid helium to -268°C (–450°F). Its low-temperature cooling system was the largest ever built when it was placed in operation in 1983. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has designated the Tevatron cryogenic system an International Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
An elegant leather-bound book —one of over 160,000 books in the Library—supports a brass-and-enamel flag of the United States of America . The Stars and Stripes is reflected in the dental mirror , a tribute to Bernard J. Cigrand, a Batavia dentist and the “Father of Flag Day.”
From the late 1880s on, Cigrand spoke around the country promoting patriotism, respect for the flag, and the need for the annual observance of a flag day on June 14. Cigrand became president of the American Flag Day Association and later of the National Flag Day Society, which allowed him to promote his cause with organizational backing.
Cigrand moved to Batavia in 1912 and built a house at 1184 S. Batavia Ave., which still stands. He practiced dentistry in the lower level of his home until 1920, when he moved his practice to 47½ Fox Street in Aurora, so that his son, Dr. Elroy might practice with him. During World War I, Bernard served with distinction as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. Cigrand continued to live in Batavia until 1932, the year he died.
After 30 years of Cigrand’s advocacy, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day in 1916. The United States Congress formally made the proclamation law in August 1949.
The Aurora Branch Railroad, which connected Aurora to the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad in Turner Junction—now West Chicago—was completed in 1850, and the first locomotive to arrive in Batavia was the “Pioneer” , on Thursday, 22 August 1850.
The railroad later became a branch line of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy (CB&Q) Railroad, which built a depot—now the Batavia Depot Museum—at Van Buren and Webster Streets in 1854. This structure is the oldest surviving depot from the Burlington line.
At the far right, exploration of new frontiers is symbolized by a scientist —perhaps from the Furnas Electric Company (1940), which produced electric switches and controls, or Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (1967), which conducts basic research at the frontiers of high energy physics and related disciplines—looking through a magnifying glass.
Two major components of the Standard Model of Fundamental Particles and Forces were discovered at Fermilab, which investigates the smallest building blocks of matter separated by the smallest distances that science has ever explored —the bottom quark (1977) and the top quark (1995).
A bygone view of the west channel of the Fox River (“the pond”) in winter captures the smokestack from the Appleton Manufacturing Co. on the Island. This is now the site of the Batavia Riverwalk and Municipal Center.
In the foreground skaters are enjoying the ice. This idyllic winter scene was inspired by “Fox River Ice-Skating,” a painting by John P. Falter that appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on 11 January 1958. See a larger-than-life version of this painting in the northeast reading room of the Library!
Next to a slim volume of forgotten lore , a fisherman sits on a book, reading —perhaps The Compleat Angler—his feet propped on the edge of the pediment. A wary walleye (Sander vitreus vitreus) keeps a close eye on the unsuspecting angler from the summer waters of the Fox River.
Another fish launches itself from the river beneath the old East River Bridge , which was built of limestone from Batavia quarries. Built in the mid-1850s, the old stone bridge was replaced in 1911 with a monolithic concrete bridge. When that bridge was demolished in 2007, enormous limestone blocks from the old bridge were found in its recesses, used as fill.
Look closely to see the smokestack from the Challenge Co.—still standing today—through the limestone arch of the old stone bridge, and reflected in the Fox River.
On the other side of the river stands 1 East Wilson Street , constructed of limestone, the longtime home to Riverview Confectionery. On its roof, inspired by a bit of advertising whimsy, sits the pride of the Newton Wagon Works Co. .
In honor of the Batavia Public Library, the northern pediment mural represents the timeless love of books and reading, and features a mother reading to her children, an elderly scholar who uses a bridge as a book rest, a cupola from a previous Library building, a number of charming animals, and more.
The mural’s central image features a mother reading to her children. Behind them, through the open window, their imagination brings the story to life as an airship à la Jules Verne’s Five Weeks in a Balloon crosses in front of the full moon.
At the far left, an owl flying towards a barn loft represents prosperity, change, and wisdom. The Eastern screech-owl (Megascops asio) was inspired by the owl worked in stained glass and perched behind the Check Out Desk, which came from Library Hall—the D. C. Newton House, 1878—the Library’s home from 1921–1981.
In the center of a windmill made of books —a paean to the Windmill City and the Direct Stroke windmill manufactured by the Challenge Co. and owned by the Library—there is a mouse looking over the top of his book. Did he hear an owl? No matter! He is safe in his wind engine of books.
The turning pages of an open book will be illuminated by an electric light —one of two that represent the Library’s third location in the Van Nortwick block, which was constructed in 1888.
Negotiations began in September 1889 to relocate the Library and Reading Room, which had outgrown its quarters, to the new Van Nortwick block on Wilson Street. The Board of Library Trustees agreed to rent the rooms, “with Two Electric Lights,” for $200 per year, and moved the Library into the upper floor of the new Van Nortwick block in October 1889, where it remained until 1902.
Through the trees and past a song bird —inspired by the field sparrow (Spizella pusilla), which has a simple, yet distinctive song of repeated clear whistled notes on one pitch that increase in rate until they become a trill—peeks the cupola of the Levi Newton house at 1 North Batavia Avenue.
This house was the Library’s fourth location (from 1902–1921) and the first building actually owned by the Library. Mary M. Newton, following the wishes and plans of her husband, the late Captain Don Carlos Newton, presented the property, the red brick Levi Newton homestead, to the Board of Library Trustees. The librarian, Margaret R. Twining, welcomed the community to the “beautiful Library home” with the words, “So come, friends, one and all, and we will do the very best we can for you.”
In November 1921, the Library moved to the D. C. Newton house next door, so that the City of Batavia could extend Wilson Street, which ended at the Levi Newton house on Batavia Avenue.
At the far right, there is a bridge of books , representing the new Monsignor William J. Donovan Bridge, which was dedicated in 2008. On the bridge, a parade of elephants was inspired by a blend of fact and folklore.
In May 1884, P. T. Barnum helped to squelch doubts about the stability of a New York landmark—while publicizing his famous circus—when one of his most famous attractions, Jumbo, led a parade of 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge. A “test elephant” was used to prove the sturdiness of the Eads Bridge (St. Louis) in June 1874 and, in October 2002, 14 elephants from the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus crossed the new Leonard P. Zakim–Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge in Boston to demonstrate the bridge’s structural integrity.
According to folklore, elephants are used for such shows of strength because they are widely believed to have uncanny instincts and will not cross unsafe structures.
A scholar , who uses the bridge as a book rest, turns a quizzical eye to the great egret lifting from the pages of the book.
A large white heron, the great egret (Ardea alba) is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America, which was founded to protect birds from being killed for their feathers.
There is a book in the foreground—perhaps a daybook waiting for its owner’s latest observations—thus the ink pot and quill pen . The writing instrument that dominated for the longest period in history (over 1,000 years) was the quill pen, now a symbol of writing and knowledge.
Introduced ca. 700 A.D., the quill pen was made from a bird feather. The strongest quills were those taken in the spring from the five outer left-wing feathers—the flight feathers—of living birds. The left wing was favored because the feathers curved outward and away when used by a right-handed writer. Goose feathers were most common.
The Beatus or letter “B” (for Batavia!) was inspired by the Ramsey Psalter (British Library, Harley 2904), produced in Winchester, England, between 980 and 1000 A.D.
In the Psalter—or Book of Psalms—the elaborate initial “B” is found at the beginning of Psalm 1 (“Blessed is the man…”), with interlace at the bottom of the shaft; its gold-paneled framework contains acanthus leaf patterns, while the bows, clasped by a mask head, are filled with multicolored plant scrolls. The initial combines Franco-Saxon letter-form with the leafwork of the “Winchester” School, and was important to the development of English initial decoration.
The bright electric light —one of two that represent the Library’s third location in the Van Nortwick block—doubles as a visual pun (“illuminated” manuscript).
The cunning and mischievous red fox represents the tributary of the Illinois River that runs through Batavia, which was named for the Fox tribe of Native Americans, a part of the Algonquian language group that merged with the allied Sac tribe as the Sac and Fox Nation.
The name Fox originated in a French mistake, when a clan name—so named for the red fox (Vulpes vulpes)—was applied to the entire tribe. The Fox call themselves Meskwaki.
Located above the fireplace in the Library Leaders Reading Room
Theodore E. Pine (1827–1905)
PORTRAIT OF SARAH M. GAMMON
oil on canvas
30⅛ × 25½ in. (76.5 × 64.8 cm.)
Collection of the Batavia Public Library District
Gift of the Estate of Dolores J. (Dee) Johnson,
||Sarah Malinda Gammon was born 9 November 1849 at Lovell, Maine, and died at San Diego, California, on 3 January 1881, at 31 years old. She was the second daughter of Elijah H. Gammon (1819–1891) and Sarah J. Cutler (1821–1855). She married Frederick J. Huse (1847–1893) of Chicago on 12 December 1873; they had three children: Helen G. Huse (1875–1920), Norman Huse, who died on 25 January 1877 at 6 months old, and Charles Gammon Huse (1878–1951).
Both Sarah and her sister, Abbie Kimball (Gammon) Harvey (1846–1872), died before their father built the magnificent Queen Anne house that stands across from the Library, now known as Gammon Corner, in 1885. The portrait was done in 1876, when Sarah was 26 years old; however, it may have been painted from an earlier photograph.
It was discovered circa 1902 in the loft of the carriage house behind the Gammon house by Elizabeth Prindle, wife of James P. Prindle II; they were married on 22 October 1901 and were living for a time with his parents. (His father was the brother of Elijah H. Gammon’s second wife, Jane C. Prindle; James the younger and Sarah were step-cousins. James the elder bought the home from the Gammon Theological Seminary in 1894.) Elizabeth gave the portrait to Dolores J. (Dee) Johnson, the wife of Carl A. (Pinoke) Johnson, in 1963.
A matching portrait of Abbie is owned by her great grandson, James S. McChesney of Connecticut. Artist. Theodore E. Pine was born in New Jersey on 13 November 1827 and died on 8 January 1905 at Ogdensburg, New York. Pine, a noted portrait artist, was active for a time in Illinois and known, as well, for figure and still life paintings. He moved to Chicago in 1866; his entire studio was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In 1904, Pine, a great admirer of Robert E. Lee, painted a life-sized portrait of Lee, known as the “Pine Portrait,” which now hangs at Washington and Lee University.
Located above the fireplace in the Library Leaders Reading Room
E. J. Sibley (1846–1939)
PORTRAIT OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
oil on canvas
37¼ × 32½ in. (94.6 × 82.6 cm)
Collection of the Batavia Public Library District
Gift of the Estate of Virginia M. Douglas
|Conservation work on the painting and a new framing treatment by The Conservation Center of Chicago, Illinois, were made possible by an Illinois Public Library Per Capita Grant awarded by the Illinois State Library, a Department of the Office of Secretary of State April 2011. “With malice toward none; with charity for all; ...” — from the second inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), the 16th president of the United States of America (1861–1865). Born in Kentucky as the son of a frontiersman, Lincoln spent his youth in Indiana and made Illinois his home.
Painting. According to family lore, Lincoln was one of the artist’s heroes. The portrait was done in 1876, eleven years after Lincoln’s assassination. The painting passed through the family to the artist’s granddaughter, Virginia Marguerite Douglas (7 November 1928–13 February 2007), who lived in Batavia from 1957 to 1988. Janet M. Takle and Patricia J. Fechner, Douglas’ nieces (and the artist’s great-granddaughters) presented the painting to the Library in 2010. Their Aunt Jinny loved to read and spend time at the Batavia Public Library, and they believed that the painting belonged in the Land of Lincoln, in Batavia, their aunt’s adopted (and beloved) home town of so many years.
Artist. Ellen Jane Sibley was born on 4 April 1846 in the Owen district, Westfield, Mass., and died at Easthampton, Mass., on 25 May 1939. She married John Jeffrey Fuller (28 March 1858–28 February 1937) in 1888. Sibley’s earlier years were devoted to artistic pursuits. An evaluation of her “Portrait of Abraham Lincoln” suggests formal training as a painter, but her work is little known, as most of her paintings were lost in a fire in the mid-1930s.
Lincoln Highway. The portrait faces Batavia Avenue, part of the original Lincoln Highway, America’s first national memorial to President Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln Highway — conceived in 1912, promoted by entrepreneur Carl G. Fisher, and formally dedicated on 31 October 1913 — ran coast-to-coast from Times Square in New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco. As the first automobile road across America, the Lincoln Highway brought great prosperity to the hundreds of cities, towns, and villages along the way — including Batavia, Illinois.
A group of five watercolors by various artists hangs in the Library’s Northeast Reading Room on the upper level. The subjects of the watercolors are well-known Batavia buildings and include the Newton House, home of the Batavia Public Library from 1921 to 1981.
Paul J. Randall (1915–1977) Untitled [Anderson Bros. Block], 1967 watercolor on paper. Collection of the Batavia Public Library District.
The Anderson Bros. Block was built in 1892 at 4 North Batavia Avenue, at Wilson Street, by Oscar Anderson and his brother-in-law, John A. Anderson, who operated what would now be called a department store, offering dry goods, clothing, crockery, and groceries. The W. L. Anderson Shop (named for Oscar Anderson’s son, William), which is shown in the painting, was owned by Miss Mary Anderson, daughter and granddaughter, respectively, of William L. and Oscar Anderson. Artist Paul J. Randall was born on 5 October 1915 in Chicago and died on 29 January 1977 in Sandwich, Illinois. Before moving to Sandwich, he lived in Winfield, Illinois, and was a member of the Aurora Art League.
John Dukes McKee (1899–1956) Bellevue Place – Batavia,
watercolor on paper. Collection of the Batavia Public Library District.
Built in 1853 (or 1854) as the Batavia Institute, this stone edifice was a private academy for young men and women. Dr. Richard J. Patterson purchased it in 1867. Bellevue Place (as it was named) served as a rest home and sanitarium for women; Mary Todd Lincoln stayed here in 1875. The structure at 333 South Jefferson Street, at Union Avenue, commands the highest piece of ground in the area and was built to present an image of utter formality. The seeds of the Batavia Library Association were planted here in 1866. Artist John Dukes McKee was born on 4 December 1899 in Kokomo, Indiana, and died on 25 July 1956 in Lyons, Illinois.
Norman B. Taylor (1899–1999) Batavia Library, watercolor on paper. Gift, probably of Eleanor Jones (a Library trustee from 1975–1983), in memory of her parents, Roy M. and Mildred G. Weaver ca. 1977. Collection of the Batavia Public Library District.
The Newton House, located at 11 N. Batavia Ave. / 317 W. Wilson St., was built in 1870 by Captain Don Carlos Newton (1832–1893) and his wife, Mary Newton (1835–1913). Newton’s father, Levi Newton, founded the Newton Wagon Works. The Batavia Public Library was located here from 1921–1981. Artist Norman B. Taylor was born on 25 March 1899 in Chicago and died in Batavia, Illinois, on 20 March 1999. In Memoriam. Mildred Grace Weaver née Clever (14 May 1901–17 January 1972), a Library trustee from 1963–1969, and Roy Maxwell Weaver (19 January 1894–31 August 1977)
Delbert C. Peterson (1926—) Stone Manor, 1977 watercolor on paper. Gift of the Batavia Woman’s Club 1982. Collection of the Batavia Public Library District.
Stone Manor, located at 528 South Batavia Avenue (Route 31), was built by Elijah Shumway Town in 1849. Judge Samuel Lockwood purchased it in 1859 and, in 1871, sold it to William Coffin, who had the first private bank in Batavia on the property. T. W. Snow bought the property, which was later known for many years as the Snow House, in 1906. Artist Delbert C. Peterson was born on 10 June 1926 in Aurora, Illinois. He worked for nine years in industrial art and design with Geneva Modern Kitchens, Inc. and Elgin Watch Co. He opened Del Peterson Art Studio in 1955, later changing the name to Del Peterson Advertising, and continued through 1994. Peterson now teaches art in Vero Beach, Florida, where he makes his home.
Paul J. Randall (1915–1977) Untitled [Batavia Depot], 1968 watercolor on board. Collection of the Batavia Public Library District.
The depot, built in Greek Revival style in 1854 (or 1855) for the Chicago and Aurora Branch Railroad (later the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, and eventually the Burlington Northern Railroad), was located at Webster and Van Buren Streets. It was purchased by the Batavia Historical Society and moved to its present site at 155 Houston Street on 12 October 1973, and is now owned by the Batavia Park District. Artist Paul J. Randall was born on 5 October 1915 in Chicago and died on 29 January 1977 in Sandwich, Illinois. Before moving to Sandwich, he lived in Winfield, Illinois, and was a member of the Aurora Art League.
Located in the northeast reading area on the upper level of the Library
BATAVIA PUBLIC LIBRARY [sign]
271/16 in. × 405/16 in. (27.5 × 40.8 cm.) Collection of the Batavia Public Library District
This sign was the last one to hang on Library Hall, as the D. C. Newton house was known from 1921–1981, when it was the home of the Batavia Public Library. The reference photograph (1973) shows this sign in its original location on the east side of Library Hall.
The names of both the woodwright (the sign’s fabricator) and sign painter are unknown. Library Hall. In May 1921 the township held a special election to approve $8,000 in bonds to buy a library building. The referendum carried by 222 votes. The result was tabulated as follows: “Men’s Vote, For 201, Against 130; Women’s Vote, for 212, Against 61.”
The Library opened in its fifth location (as a public library), the Don Carlos Newton house at 11 North Batavia Avenue, in November 1921.
Located in the northeast reading area on the upper level of the Library
The Painting: John Falter’s “Fox River Ice-Skating” appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post (11 January 1958), and was inspired by his visits to Batavia.
The painting represents a group of skaters enjoying the winter sport on the Fox River bordering the stone building of the old Appleton Manufacturing Company.
In The Saturday Evening Post, Falter declared “that by the time he had finished painting all those portraits he had a sore wrist.”
The original painting was purchased from the artist in 1962 by the Batavia Woman’s Club.
It was displayed for many years in the Batavia Civic Center (327 West Wilson Street), which once served as the meeting place for the Batavia Woman’s Club, and was later placed on indefinite loan to the Batavia Depot Museum, where it is now on display.
In 2006, a larger-than-life reproduction of the painting was commissioned by the Batavia Public Library, with permission from the Batavia Woman’s Club. The 80¼h × 66 ⅝w in. mural on canvas is on permanent display at the Library.
Prints and note cards featuring this image are available for sale from the Batavia Woman’s Club at the Batavia Depot Museum.
The Artist: John Philip Falter was born on 28 February 1910 in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, spent his formative years in Falls City, Nebraska, lived and worked from New York to California, and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 22 May 1982.
Falter is known primarily for his 128 cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post.
Falter painted portraits, western scenes, advertising illustrations, scenes of American history, and more than 300 World War II recruiting posters.
What he was striving for, said Falter in 1952, was a “picture with reader-time in it. I want to put down on canvas a piece of America, a stage set, a framework for the imagination to travel around in.”
Wildly Happy Reading Together is a colorful triptych painted by Mundelein artist Linda Doyle. The three panels done in acrylics hang in the Youth Services department. The work was funded by donations made in memory of Nancy J. Schmidt, a Batavia resident who worked in the Library’s Youth Services department for five years. Mem Fox, an author and educator whose 10 Read Aloud Commandments encourage “wildly happy reading,” was one of Nancy’s favorite authors.