December 07, 2023

Picturing the Past With ... the Geneva History Museum

The 32.8-acre site that houses the Kane County Government Center on South Batavia Avenue was part of land originally owned by Geneva’s founding family, the Herringtons.

In 1864, Merritt Cole bought a portion of the Herringtons’ holdings along the river south of the railroad tracks and built the yellow, Italianate-style house that is part of the Government Center’s complex. The property was sold to Charles Pope, owner of the Pope Glucose Factory, in 1880. It was then sold to the Society of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart in 1924. The order eventually built the main brick building in 1941.

The Society of Missionaries of the Sacred Heart remained at the location until November 1972, when Kane County bought the grounds. Remodeling began, and by the spring of 1975, all county administrative offices had moved to the site.

The Geneva History Museum features the main building’s decorative brick patterns in its new exhibit, “Building Geneva.” This is a hands-on children’s exhibit introducing the concepts of architecture with references to Geneva buildings and homes. Children can imagine being an architect, interior designer, city planner, mason or builder.

"Building Geneva" runs through Aug. 26. For more information, visit

Postcard of the Sacred Heart Mission Seminary, circa 1959, is pictured.