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Batavia Institute
Batavia Institute (Batavia, IL) 01.JPG
Location Batavia, Kane County, Illinois, United States
Built 1853
Architect Town, Elijah Shumway
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP reference No. 76000712
Added to NRHP August 13, 1976

The Batavia Institute is a Registered Historic Place in Batavia, Illinois, US.

Batavia Institute

Batavia Institute, a private academy, was chartered on 12 February 1853 by 13 men, including Rev. Stephen Peet, the Congregational minister, Elijah Shumway Town, Joel McKee, John Van Nortwick, Dennison K. Town, who settled in Batavia in 1839 as its first physician, and Isaac G. Wilson.

The building's central part, which still stands in Batavia at 333 South Jefferson Street, at Union Avenue, was constructed in 1853–1854 of locally quarried limestone at a cost of $20,000. The architect Elijah Shumway Town designed the building in a Greek Revival style.

At the time the Batavia Institute was built, there were no secondary schools in Batavia. In fact, since not many towns had high schools, students came to the Batavia Institute from all over Illinois. The school operated for over 10 years under the supervision of the area's Congregational churches until new public school laws lessened the need for such a school. For a short time the building was rented to the public schools.

Proposed normal school

Using the Batavia Institute as the basis for its proposal, Batavia submitted a bid for the Illinois normal school in 1857. A normal school or teachers college is an educational institution for training teachers. Its purpose is to establish teaching standards or norms, hence its name. The State of Illinois passed an act to establish a normal school on 18 February 1857—the second west of the Appalachian Mountains.

Bids were opened by the State Board of Education in Peoria on 7 May 1857. The first proposition on the agenda was from Batavia, which offered a subscription of $15,000, with the land and building belonging to the Batavia Institute, valued at $30,000, making $45,000 in all. Washington, in Tazewell County, Bloomington, and Peoria submitted proposals, as well. After considerable discussion, a resolution was adopted locating the new university at Bloomington—actually north of town at the village of North Bloomington, which was renamed Normal in 1865, for the school. Illinois State University celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2007.

Bellevue Place

The building and grounds of the Batavia Institute were sold in 1867 to Dr. Richard J. Patterson, who, as proprietor and medical superintendent, operated it as a private rest home and sanitarium for women, called Bellevue Place. The sanitarium operated until July 1965. The most notable patient was Mary Todd Lincoln, widow of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who was a patient for several months in the summer of 1875. The most severe patients were kept in the attic accesible from a northwest staircase on the third floor. The attic had shackles and writing on the wallpaper from those detained there. At one time the building was part of the underground railroad. There was a slave tunnel located at the south end of the kitchen located in the basement which was later filled up with dirt.

Fox Hill Home

In the 1960s, the building was converted to a residential facility for unwed mothers called the Fox Hill Home. The home became more of a group home for teenage girls. At that time no children were born there. The Fox Hill Home operated into the late 1970s when the building fell into disrepair, requiring approximately 1,500,000 in renovations.

Bellevue Place Apartments

In the middle of the 1980s, the building was once again named Bellevue Place and converted into apartments.

National Register of Historic Places

The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on 13 August 1976.

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