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Look back: Silent sewing, fundraisers for hospital and West school expansion

New poster designed by Neal Ormond IV for 175th anniversary (2012) Aurora. | AurorHistorical Society

New poster designed by Neal Ormond IV for the 175th anniversary (2012) of Aurora. | Aurora Historical Society

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Updated: December 27, 2012 6:01AM

Aurora is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. More information is available at To commemorate the anniversary, The Beacon-News is revisiting stories from 50, 100 and 150 years ago. Here’s what Aurorans were talking about this week ... .

… in 1862.

C.H. Reeves in Aurora was the local agent for the new noiseless sewing machines. For just $40, this large machine promised to be rapid, quiet, simple and far superior to machines that sold for two or three times as much.

Buyers could select a machine that did a Grover & Baker stitch or the lock stitch. The customer could switch machines if not satisfied; Reeves was the only local agent offering such accommodations.

… in 1912.

The Beacon-News was the first to publish sketches of the proposed first hospital in Aurora. City officials held a huge banquet to kick off an 11-day campaign to raise $100,000 to build the hospital at the corner of Lincoln and Weston avenues. About 350 men and women attended the banquet, which lasted more than four hours. Edna Smith led the way in pledges, committing $6,000 to the hospital effort.

“No city is complete without hospitals,” said Mayor Thomas Sanders. “When I came to Aurora not a great many years ago, mules pulled old street cars up Broadway. No one thought of taking a car if he wanted to get anywhere in a hurry. ... This city has made marked progress in late years. We have acquired sewers and paved streets and electrically lighted streets. But while we contemplate with satisfaction and pride these improvements, we still realize that the better health of the community is, after all, the most important, the most coveted improvement.”

… in 1962.

The West Aurora School District voted to place a referendum on the ballot asking voters to approve a new junior high school and two elementary schools. The school board hoped to issue bonds for $2.9 million to build the three schools. The schools were planned for the Alschuler-Sans Souci area, east of North Aurora, and on the south side west of the Burlington railroad tracks.

Superintendent Harold Fearn expected the bonds could be paid off in 19 years. The three new buildings were expected to meet elementary population needs through 1966 and junior high requirements through 1970. The district was also considering another bond issue to build a second high school in the next three years.

The bonds were passed by a vote of 2,831 to 1,094.

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