Weather Updates

‘Storehenge’ to pay tribute to Batavia’s business past

The BataviHistoric PreservatiCommission is considering plans for 'Storehenge' steel archway being planned for North River-Wilsstreets entryway downtown.  

The Batavia Historic Preservation Commission is considering plans for "Storehenge," a steel archway being planned for the North River-Wilson streets entryway to the downtown.  

storyidforme: 35240681
tmspicid: 12873765
fileheaderid: 5952456

Mayor’s notes link to historic storefront

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke’s great-grandfather, John W. Jeffery, around 1880 was a partner and pharmacist at the Kinne & Jeffery Department Store at South River and Wilson streets.

Jeffery, who died in 1918, was known for accepting late night calls from families in need of medication for an ailing child or relative, Schielke said.

The mayor’s grandparents, Vera (Jeffery) and Herman Schielke, bought the business and changed the name to Schielke’s Food Store, operating it until around 1960. Schielke’s uncle, Howard (Spud) Schielke, eventually phased out the grocery side of the business and operated a hobby shop until 1976.

While the Kinne & Jeffery Department Store represents an early downtown Batavia family retail business, the Shumway Foundry was a downtown industry that operated from 1872 to 2007.

“The trim on the columns was a true art form and the fact it was in downtown Batavia speaks to the history, commitment, interest and fascination Batavians have had for art,” Schielke said.

— Linda Girardi

Updated: September 21, 2012 6:06AM

BATAVIA — Playing off the name of Great Britain’s renowned Stonehenge monument, Batavia will erect “Storehenge” as a tribute to the history of its downtown businesses.

“Storehenge,” a modified gazebo-type open structure, will be built at the northeast corner of Island Avenue and Wilson Street.

“It took several years to find a place that would stand time,” Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath said. “One of the concepts of the streetscape project was to widen all of the corners where people will stop and have a conversation.”

The gazebo — about 14 feet wide and 14 feet tall — will be composed of five cast iron storefront columns salvaged from a three-story limestone building dating back to the mid-1800s that once graced the southeast corner of Wilson and South River streets.

For nearly a century, the corner building housed the Kinne & Jeffery Department Store and later Schielke’s Food Store and Hobby Shop, until 1976, when the property was sold for intersection improvements. The storefront columns had been stored for decades at the Shumway Foundry – an industry that operated in Batavia for 135 years.

McGrath discovered the structural storefront beams on the site of the Shumway Foundry prior to the demolition of the iron castings foundry in 2007. The Shumway family said the city could have the cast iron storefront columns if it found a use for them.

Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke said he believes the cast iron columns were made in Aurora and the ornate decorative trim was done by the Shumway Foundry.

Rebecca Allen, an exhibit designer and artist, said the city was interested in a gazebo for some place in the downtown and she began to draw concepts that accented the “Eastlake” design on the columns.

Allen said McGrath came up with the name “Storehenge,” when he saw her rendering for the gazebo.

“The columns and circular pattern made him think of Stonehenge,” the artist said.

The installation of the gazebo will be made as the city works on the North River Street downtown streetscape improvements this year.

The structure will feature sign boards and a panel bearing historical information of companies from Batavia’s past.

Dennis Kintop, construction manager for the project, recently reviewed details for “Storehenge” before members of the Batavia Historic Preservation Commission. “We’ll be using stone we have from the Batavia quarry — big — we’re talking chunks of stone,” Kintop said. “We are running it like the Batavia Riverwalk (an all volunteer-project).”

Kintop said both the city electric and the fire departments will assist in the installation, and the artist, a graphic designer and architect, as well as others have donated their services. The installation will be this fall.

Kintop said the cast iron columns will be either powder coated or painted, depending on how receptive the cast iron responds to a new finish.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.