Warrenville Then & Now: 28W180 Warrenville Road

Formerly 28W180 Warrenville Road, the South West corner of Leone Schmidt Heritage Park

Once owned by Hiram Leonard, an early pioneer and entrepreneur in Warrenville who kept a detailed diary of his life, this building was built around 1842. Although no documentation has been found, it has been reiterated by oldtimers that this was a wing of Hiram’s original house that was moved from Winfield Road to this site. For many years it served as a store, Hiram’s office and post office. These two images show the home in 1947 and again in 1993, after much decay and work was done to the home. It was torn down to make way for the park that is currently on this site. In 2015 this area will be changed again as the DuPage River channel is expanded.90.1.5 (2)

 

Read more here about this property and Hiram Leonard’s life, taken from Warrenville City Historian Leone Schmidt’s book “In and Around Warrenville.”

“Hiram Leonard’s career shifted into high gear during the ‘60s, when his ambition of 25 years was finally realized.

“Expanding the apothecary business he had been carrying on the past five years, in 1860 he formed a partnership with Jerome B. Pollard to also market dry goods, groceries, and hardware on the main business thoroughfare [Big Woods Road, later renamed Aurora Road, and today known as Warrenville Road], on a quarter-acre parcel he had purchased from Colonel Warren the year before. Then on March 1, 1861 he applied for the Warrenville postmaster position.

“The office of postmaster was strictly a patronage plum, dispensed chiefly by congressmen. Although financially unrewarding, a franking privilege did go with the appointment, along with oodles of prestige, which made for intense competition.

“The big news, almost as exciting as the [southern states] Secession, broke June 1. Julius Warren, Warrenville’s first and only postmaster, was ‘removed from his job’ and the newly converted Whig was installed. During this crucial period in the country’s history, Leonard would have his finger on the pulse of the town.

“As the partnership with Pollard did not last very long, Leonard was soon in full control of the mercantile operations as well as the mail. For the rest of his life he could bask in the center of customers, loafers and postal patrons.

“Upon Leonard’s death in 1878, the post office was shifted to Bowen’s store on the corner, with the Colonel once again in charge. (He had forsaken the Democratic party in the latter war years). Joe Hawbecker bought Leonard’s stock and started his own business just across the river, and Leonard’s store was for rent.

“As the years passed, the old store became a carriage-trimming shop, then a poolroom and cigar store, or a sweet-cider stand. When Mr. Werdebaugh rented it in 1886, some local wags claimed that the sign hawking tobacco, cigars, ginger beer, and candy was only camouflage to disguise a saloon. As Warrenville was becoming a depressed area, the store was frequently vacant.

From 1892 on, when Will Wray [Hiram’s step-son] rented out the farm on Winfield Road (his mother’s name by that time had changed from Leonard to Foote) and moved himself and belongings into the store building, it was used as a residence. Wray later rented it to a retiree, John Stevens, and after Stevens died in 1923 the tenant was Merwin Brown.

“Wray sold the building to Maria and George Fuller in 1924. In 1940 Elton and Anna May Jeffries bought it and became busy landlords. The upstairs apartment they rented out for 20 years was the first home in Warrenville for a host of families.”

Hiram Leonard House october 1993

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Published in: on December 5, 2014 at 12:56 pm  Leave a Comment  

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