Holiday Open House: See history, art and shop for unique holiday gifts!

Join the Warrenville Historical Society for a Holiday Open House on Friday, December 9th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at the Warrenville Historical Museum & Art Gallery.


See the museum while you enjoy live music. Tour the art gallery, including works of art by youth from Warrenville Youth and Family Service’s programs.


Shop local history: Warrenville Historic Landmark Ornament Series including the Albright Building, the Roundhouse and the Warrenville Store, each $10, local history books and craft items made by our Museum Guild ladies are also available for purchase. ornaments-banner-ad

Watch our Albright Artist-in-Residence, Maggie Capettini, paint a museum scene live! Watch her artistic process in real time! The Albright Artist-in-Residency is sponsored by a City of Warrenville Hotel Motel Tax Grant.14611016_1517359938277940_3953804986205395557_n

Free and open to all!

Published in: on December 2, 2016 at 9:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Warrenville Women’s History Wednesday: Sarah “Sally” Louise Warren

The Historical Society began 2016 telling the story of Colonel Warren’s seven sisters. Julius Warren, our town’s founder, was the only son in his family and had the important job of helping his parents, Nancy and Daniel Warren, find seven suitable husbands for his seven sisters. The Warren sisters were successfully married to seven well-established men who helped to shape northern Illinois. Please enjoy reading a little bit about one of the seven sisters featured in our January program The Seven Sisters of Colonel Warren. You can also learn more about the sisters in our museum exhibit that will be on display at the Historical Museum & Art Gallery through 2016.

Sarah Warren

Sarah Warren


Sarah Louise Warren, often referred to as Sally, was born in 1813, the third Warren daughter. Although it was uncommon for women to have much of a career in those days, Sarah tried her hardest. She originally left the family’s New York home in 1827 to go to work as a teacher at a school that was 10 miles away. She lived and taught at the school for the entire school year before the school’s administration realized she was only 13 years old-clearly mature and responsible for her age, but young for the profession. Some of her students were even older than she was! Despite her young age, she returned to the school the next fall and taught for 6 more months before receiving training at the Fredonia Academy where her brother, Julius, was also enrolled. At the end of her studies she taught in neighboring communities until the family headed west.

It was during her teaching however that she was attracted to the Christian religion, an institution that would form the basis for much of her life’s work. A group of Methodists held a meeting in her school house and following their stirring words, she decided to be baptized a Christian. We know that her mother Nancy, and oldest sister, Philinda, attended church prior to Sarah’s baptism, but religion was not a strong focus of the Warren family while the children were growing up. Religion remained important to Sarah and saw her through some dark days later in her life.

When the family first got to Illinois, Sarah wanted to continue her teaching, so she chose to teach as an assistant teacher from 1834 until 1836 in one of the first schools opened in Chicago. Sarah quit teaching when she married Abel Carpenter, as married women were not allowed to be teachers. Abel was however not Sarah’s first love in her new Illinois home. Shortly after she began teaching, she became engaged to be married to a Dr. Vanderbogart, the principal of the school where she was teaching. Dr. Vanderbogart however was taken ill with typhoid fever. Once he felt himself recovered, he headed to the Warren home in McDowell Grove, but the journey proved too much for his fragile health. He was taken ill again and died at the Warren home, a terrible tragedy for any bride to be. Sarah’s heart would heal well enough though for her to marry into a prominent northern Illinois family, the Carpenters.

Philo Carpenter

Philo Carpenter

The Carpenters were originally from the Berkshire Hills in western Massachusetts. They were widely known for their unswerving dedication to their religious and moral convictions. After moving west in the early 1830s, they exerted tremendous influence in Chicago and Warrenville. Philo, Abel’s older brother, was the first to come to Chicago. He arrived to the still developing city right at the time of the Black Hawk War of 1832. A druggist by trade, he was in immediate demand to aid the cholera victims suffering from the raging epidemic. Philo quickly established a successful business and became involved with the establishment of the First Presbyterian Church. Philo also purchased large land tracts, including a tract of land that extended from downtown Chicago to the Fox River. In 1833, Abel followed his brother to Chicago and helped him work his business and manage his landholdings. Religion was also close to Abel’s mind as he settled in the new community and began work to form the First Baptist Church of Chicago. In order to raise money for the new church, he undertook a brave solo journey back to Massachusetts on horseback to solicit funds for the erection of a meetinghouse with only a bible in his pocket to protect him. After Abel’s religious tasks in Chicago were complete, he headed west onto his brother’s land and settled in an area just east of Colonel Warren’s mill. Realizing the community was in need of a general store, he opened the first one in 1835, just east of First Street on Big Woods Road, todays Winfield and Warrenville Roads. We aren’t sure if Sarah Warren and Abel Carpenter met in Chicago or Warrenville, but there is no doubt that within the relatively small communities the two quickly became acquainted. The couple was married on June 26, 1836, in the sitting room of the Warren family home. The newlyweds settled on Abel’s 160 acres of land on the southeast side of town with three Carpenter sisters and their husbands.

Abel was very involved in the growth and early prominence of the Warrenville community. He served on the Big Woods Claim Protection Society, the first organization of its kind in the area, which sought to limit land pirating and settle land disputes. Abel was one of five appointed to a court of law to help negotiate quarrels over land stakes. Abel also served on the first Cemetery board starting in 1845, and was a leader in the temperance and abolitionist movements, both very important to the local community.

Hiram E. Leonard

Hiram E. Leonard

Abel Carpenter should also hold a special place in all of our hearts, because it was at his urging that our beloved Hiram Leonard came to Warrenville and made his home here. We know Hiram best through his detailed diaries of his 35 years of life here in town. Even though they often track more about his loneliness, sickness and life troubles, the vital information contained in Hiram’s diaries have allowed much local history to be saved.

Sarah Warren Carpenter gave birth to six children, but sadly two died in infancy. These were just two of the tragedies she would face in her motherhood and there is no doubt that her fervent ties to religion that she established as a teen teaching in New York helped her through the hard times.

Sarah and Abel were charter members of the Warrenville Baptist Church in 1836 and remained immovable pillars for 40 years. They counseled fallen-away brethren and sisters, led prayer meetings, resolved disputes, negotiated for resident preachers-even providing living quarters in their home, and collected funds. Abel represented Warrenville at the annual Baptist Association meetings throughout the area. Their children also served unselfishly and untiringly whenever called upon.

Warrenville's original Baptist Church.

Warrenville’s original Baptist Church

In the late 1850s, the Carpenters left their farm on the east part of town and moved to the western part of Winfield Township. They weren’t far from town though and visited Warrenville often for personal and church matters. Today their farm is home to the Fermilab buffalos.

During the 1850s the Carpenters activities around their abolitionist beliefs increased. As the country moved towards Civil War, abolitionists held meetings throughout northern Illinois, with some important gatherings happening right here in Warrenville. Philo, Abel’s brother, also turned his west-side Chicago home into an asylum for fugitive slaves, and worked with their brother-in-law Thomas Bridges to help escaped slaves across state lines in the underground railroad.

Ashley Carpenter, Warrenville’s first Civil War casualty

Ashley Carpenter, Warrenville’s first Civil War casualty

Sarah faced one of her biggest life challenges when war did finally break out. In 1862, a year after fighting had begun, their son Ashley answered the call and volunteered to fight for the Union Army with other Warrenville boys. Sadly, after just three months in harsh conditions, Ashley succumbed to the hard marching and exposure as many other soldiers did. Abel traveled to Kentucky and brought their son’s body back along with his personal effects, which included an eloquent journal detailing his short service on behalf of his beliefs in the Union cause. Sarah, however, never recovered from the loss of Ashley and wore his likeness around her neck for the rest of her life. Her only solace was in watching her three remaining children marry and prosper. After Abel died following a stroke in 1882, Sarah lived out her last 15 years with her daughter and her family on the Walker homestead in Aurora.

Happy New Year! Thank you for a great 2015!

Thank you to all of our supporters, collaborators and volunteers for a great 2015!

It was a wonderful year full of continuing popular programs and introducing new ones to bring Warrenville history to life!12363107_10207514230121602_51946599644360564_o

This summer, we were happy to welcome our first Albright-inspired Artist-in-Residency, Chris Hodge, who recently completed this amazing version of Ivan Albright’s picture Among Those Left, which used Warrenville’s blacksmith Hugo Kleinwachter as a model. Chris’ original pieces based on Ivan Albright’s work will be on display at the Historical Museum & Art Gallery when we reopen in the spring. Thank you to the City of Warrenville’s Hotel Motel Tax Fund for funding this exciting project.

2015 was an exciting year at the Historical Society! We hope you all have a Happy New Year and we look forward to continuing our mission of preserving and presenting our great community’s rich history in 2016!


Albright Inspired Artist-in-Residence: Chris Hodge

The Historical Society has launched a new Albright inspired Artist-in-Residency Program. The Albright artists used the current home of the Museum, the 1858 Methodist Church, as an art studio and gallery from 1924-1957. Each year artists who are inspired by one of the three Albright artists, Adam Emory, Ivan or Malvin Albright, will be invited to create original artwork inspired by the Albrights and their work in Warrenville.

Our 2015 artist is Chris Hodge, an accomplished artist and art teacher whose work has been shown throughout Chicagoland and beyond. Chris was part of the Historical Society’s 2012 “Warrenville Inspired” art show and created his own version of Ivan Albright’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” which can be seen at the Warrenville Historical Museum & Art Gallery alongside a digital reproduction of Ivan’s original painting. Some of Chris’ other work is also on display through the summer.

Chris Hodge's 2012 piece in progress

Chris Hodge’s 2012 piece in progress

Visitors to the Museum can also watch Chris draw on these selected days in June, July, and August from 1:00-4:00p.m.: Wednesday, June 17th; Wednesday, June 24th; Wednesday, July 8th; Wednesday, July 15th; Sunday, July 26th; Sunday, August 2nd; Wednesday, August 5th; and Wednesday, August 12th.

Chris and Museum Director Sara Phalen will also be present at the Wednesday, June 24th Warrenville Concert, from 6:30-8:30p.m., in the Albright Park Gazebo area between City Hall and the Warrenville Public Library. Come out and hear more about the program, Chris’ work and the Albrights in Warrenville.

Chris will also give an artist statement at the Historical Society’s Monday, September 14th Annual Meeting at 7:00p.m., prior to our Director, Sara, giving a presentation about the Albrights and their time in our community.

For more information on Chris’ work, visit his website, and for more information about the Historical Society and the Albrights visit our website at This program is made possible by a City of Warrenville Hotel Motel Tax Fund Grant.


Happy St. Patrick’s Day from Youghal

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Our Museum Director, Sara visited Warrenville’s Sister City Youghal, County Cork, Ireland, last September and took a piece of Warrenville with her!

Warrenville bear outside St. Mary's Collegiate Church

Warrenville 175th Annivesary bear outside St. Mary’s Collegiate Church

Read more about the recent archaeology finds in this church, St. Mary’s Collegiate Church, here: Sara was able to see some of the digging going on first hand!

Warrenville bear inside the pop-up Youghal museum in St. Mary's Church.

Warrenville 175th Anniversary bear inside the pop-up Youghal museum in St. Mary’s Church.

Learn more about Youghal on their website and on their Facebook Page

Fashion Friday featuring the Well-Dressed Women of Warrenville

It’s Fashion Friday at the Historical Society! Enjoy these Well-Dressed Women of Warrenville from local artist Mildred Baldwin’s popular column from the Warrenville Digests from February 1969.  If you’d like to learn more about Mildred, see our earlier blog post here  You can also stop into the museum during our open Sunday hours from 1-4pm to see the full collection of the Well-Dressed Women of Warrenville and other work by Mildred.

WDWW11-3 WDWW11-4 WDWW11-5

Warrenville and the American Civil War: Hudson Family

The American Civil War deeply affected every community across the North and the South. In Warrenville, 50 brave men volunteered to fight for the Union cause and 17 paid the ultimate price. As the war came to an end in 1865, 150 years ago, Warrenville tried to return to some normalcy, however the sadness left by war time loss would last for many years.

The Joseph and Mary Hudson family was a local Warrenville family that lost a loved one in the war. The family came to Warrenville from Elyria, Ohio, after first visiting Mrs. Hudson’s father, Abel Culver, in the growing community in 1844. With the promise of farm land, the family settled in the Warrenville area in 1845 after shipping their furniture over Lake Erie to Chicago. The Hudsons first stayed in Big Woods, but when Mr. Hudson’s farming plans did not materialize, he found temporary employment as a tavern-keeper in Warrenville and moved the family into town. A year later, in 1848, the family bought the former Little Red Schoolhouse building, formerly located at 3S463 Batavia Road. This building had served as the first public building in town and the home of the community’s school from 1836 through 1848 when the Hudsons moved in, enlarging and remodeling the structure to become a private residence.

Lil Red Schoolhouse

During his active years Mr. Hudson dabbled in local politics, holding the offices of justice of the peace, constable, township collector, and three times he was elected tax assessor (1852, 1853, and 1866). The last office may or may not have brought him popularity. At any rate, there was much coming and going at the Hudson home, especially while he was justice of the peace. Mr. Hudson also served in the affairs of the cemetery association as a director, trustee, secretary, and treasurer at various times.

The Hudsons had three children: Bowman, William and the oldest, Josephine. Josephine was a school teacher who never married and continued to live in the family home after her parents’ death. William, the middle child, joined the 8th Illinois Cavalry in December of 1863, and sadly died in a Richmond, Virginia, prison on March 4, 1865, just weeks before Confederate General Lee surrendered to Union General Grant.

Please join us this coming Sunday, January 25th at 2:00p.m. at the Warrenville Public Library to learn more about the last year of the Civil War in our program “1865 in 48 Minutes” which is part of our five year series Warrenville & the American Civil War. Reservations to attend the free program can be made through the library at through their website or at (630) 393-1171. You can also learn more about Warrenville during the Civil War years by stopping into the Museum during 2015 to view our Warrenville & the American Civil War exhibit.

Information included above taken in part from Leone Schmidt’s “In and Around Historic Warrenville.”

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

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

Fashion Friday featuring the Well-Dressed Women of Warrenville

It’s Fashion Friday at the Historical Society! Enjoy these Well-Dressed Women of Warrenville from local artist Mildred Baldwin’s popular column from the Warrenville Digests.  If you’d like to learn more about Mildred, see our earlier blog post here  You can also stop into the museum during our open hours to see the full collection of the Well-Dressed Women of Warrenville and other work by Mildred.

We hope you all have a wonderful weekend!





Fashion Friday featuring the Well-Dressed Women of Warrenville

It’s Fashion Friday again at the Historical Society! Enjoy these July 1971 Well-Dressed Women of Warrenville from local artist Mildred Baldwin’s popular column from the Warrenville Digests.  If you’d like to learn more about Mildred, see our earlier blog post here  You can also stop into the Museum during our summer hours of Wednesdays and Sundays from 1-4pm to see the other Well-Dressed Women.

We hope you all have a wonderful Friday and weekend!


WDWW23-9 copy

WDWW23-10 copy

Published in: on July 11, 2014 at 7:57 am  Leave a Comment