The Fine Line opened its doors in September of 1979 as a small gallery on James Street in Geneva, Illinois. The founder, Denise Kavanagh, a school principal who retired when she was 40 years old, discover her love for weaving after she retired. She brought a loom to the gallery and soon visitors asked if she would teach them to weave. That was the beginning of The Fine Line as a teaching center. The center grew over the years and went through several moves because of this. The final move happened in 1986. The Fine Line moved to a restored barn on four acres in the St. Charles countryside.
In 1999, another of Denise’s dreams came to fruition with the completion of an $800,000 addition. The new building houses The Kavanagh Gallery and five additional studios.
The Fine Line is one of only a few regional art centers in this country. Internationally known artists teach a variety of workshops. There are as many as 1,100 students a year, a teaching staff of 30-plus and well over 200 class offerings a year.
Denise passed away in 2002, but her legacy remains. Her friends, her students and her supporters are so passionate that the center is run almost entirely by volunteers.
If you are in town, make sure you visit at least one art gallery. The newest one is "Bridges Art Gallery". It is located downtown, opposite to Salerno's On The Fox restaurant. You can find original art work of American and European artists. Everything you buy comes with a certificate of authenticity. They are closed on Monday.
I love watercolor paintings and I have purchased one painted by Jerry Smith from them. The price was right and the staff was great helping me find just the perfect piece I was looking for!
Town House Books is a charming little book store, with a very inviting atmosphere! It's so easy to get lost in their little nooks and crannies and end up with some really great books. They have a huge selection and hard to find favorites.
The cafe attached is also a wonderful place to read and eat (check out my Restaurants tips for more information). Make sure you check them out when you are in town. If you are a book lover and avid reader, you will not be disappointed!
This is the old building where city meetings were held until the construction of the Municipal Building was complete.
Before this building reached its 100th birthday in 1992 it faced an uncertain future. Although the Old City Building has a rich history, city officials during the late 1970s began to consider the possibility of razing the building rather than restoring it. By this point in time, the building was deteriorating. Thanks to the foresight of Historical Society members and the building's placement on the National Register of Historic Places, the Old City Building remains standing today. In 1996, the building was covered with foam insulation and dryvit in order to preserve the bricks.
Downtown St Charles is really not that big. You will find a collection of art stores, antique & boutique shopping and nearly 30 restaurant. Everything is located east and west of Fox River.
3rd St. Shops in downtown is a unique blend of twenty individually owned specialty stores and coffee shop.
This is the place to go to if you want to learn about St Charles history. The museum is located in the historic McCornack Oil Company building constructed in 1928. It hosts exhibits that change during the year, so check with them for the most current one.
The museum is closed on Mondays.
There is also a public parking area just behind the museum. You can park your car there and start exploring the city.
The Municipal Building that we see today was built on the site of the old Fixture Factory which burned in 1929. The construction of the new building completed in 1940. The construction cost was covered by the Baker and Norris families and it was a gift to the city of St Charles.
The building is made of black granite and white Georgian marble.
Durant House is an authentically restored and furnished 1843 prairie farm house. The house was built by Bryant Durant and his wife, Jerusha. It was restored by members of local Questers antique study group around 1970s. Locals call it the "Kane County's Little House on the Prairie". It is opened only from June to late October. Costumed interpreters involve visitors with mid-19th century farm life.
I have to admit, I do not know too much about this church (except that it was another building whose construction was paid in full by Edward Baker), but I like the building and the Gothic style. The church is also the sponsor of the St Charles Farmers Market that runs every Friday from June to end of October (rain or shine) from 7am to 1pm.
The place where the Arcada Theatre building is located today was the home of a hotel built in 1837 by Orange C. Baird, David Howard and Dr. Nathan Collins. During the Mexican War and the Civil War, the hotel served as a recruiting headquarters. By 1889 the building's condition became so poor that the building was demolished and the lot remained vacant until 1920 when the construction of the Arcada Theatre started.
The new building was officially opened to the public in 1926. Its purpose was that of providing a place of entertainment and enjoyment for people living in the area.
The Arcada Theatre remained in the possession of the Norris family (who paid for the construction in the first place) until 1980. From 1980 until 1992, Ruby Frank owned the theater.
In the early 1990s, Classic Cinemas bought the Aracada Theatre. The Arcada Theatre is still under Classic Cinemas' management, who added few modern touches to the place (such as a new sound system) but still preserving the old feel of the 1920s.
The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency placed the Arcada Theater on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
The construction of this building began in 1906 and finished in 1908. The library, which contained over 2,000 books, had only one librarian, Miss Mary Stewart. Miss Stewart remained the sole librarian until 1929.
In 1933, the library gained a mezzanine and turned the basement into a children's room.
Several additions and restorations took place over the years. These were carefully done in order to preserve the feeling of the building.
Most of the furniture pieces inside are the original ones dated from 1908.
OK, this is not really in St Charles, but it is very close, so make sure you stop by Geneva's Historic District. Here you will see historic homes converted into specialty shops and restaurants.
Make sure you stop by The Little Traveler, a Victorian home with 36 rooms filled with antiques, fashions, gourmet foods, and gifts from around the world.
One of the oldest midsummer festival in the Midwest is the Swedish Day, dating back to 1911. It is held every year downtown Geneva, IL on the 3rd Sunday in June. The festival has something for everybody: Arts & Crafts Fair, Folk Dancers, Maypole Celebration, Live Scandinavian Music, Children's Choir, etc.
The food choices is also great and it gives you a chance to sample some Swedish dishes. They do have good pancakes!
The Old St Charles Post Office Building is where Doc Moran Inc is located today. The building served as a post office from 1937 until 1985. It was built on a land donated by Mrs. E. J. Baker.
The original plan of the building, which was designed by federal employees, brought opposition from the town's mayor, Dr. Ival Langum, and two of St. Charles's most prominent citizens, Mr. E.J. Baker and Lester Norris. They strongly believed that its architecture would greatly contrast with that of the surrounding buildings. Mayor Langum, Mr. Baker, and Mr. Norris went to Washington D.C. to protest the construction of such a building. Their objections were acknowledged and the post office was constructed of Bedford stone with a copper roof.
The new post office is located at 1405 W. Main Street, with a branch office at 616 East Main Street.
Grave Reminders Cemetery Walk is an event organized by St Charles Heritage Center each October. It takes place in the North Cemetery located on Rt 25.
Current residents dress up and portray former residents who are buried at North Cemetery. The residents that are portrayed change from year to year.
Contact St Charles Heritage Center at 630-584-6967 if you are interested in attending this event.