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Local

Downers Grove exhibit celebrates 125th anniversary of Victorian Blodgett House

The 125th anniversary of the historic Blodgett House will be celebrated by the exhibit "Blodgett: 100 Years of Family History." The free exhibit, which opens Aug. 9, explores the history of the Blodgett family and its significant impact on the founding and growth of Downers Grove.
The 125th anniversary of the historic Blodgett House will be celebrated by the exhibit "Blodgett: 100 Years of Family History." The free exhibit, which opens Aug. 9, explores the history of the Blodgett family and its significant impact on the founding and growth of Downers Grove.

DOWNERS GROVE – The Blodgett family name is woven throughout the history of Downers Grove.

Israel and Avis Blodgett were some of the village’s first residents, settling in the community in 1836. The family played an important role in the town’s growth and development. They also participated in national events that helped shaped the nation’s history.

A new exhibit, “Blodgett: 100 Years of Family History,” takes a closer look at each member of the Blodgett family. It begins Aug. 9 at the Downers Grove Museum, 831 Maple Ave.

The exhibit also celebrates the 125th anniversary of the Victorian Blodgett House, which serves as the Downers Grove Museum.

The event kicks off with a reception from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served and Museum Curator Zach Bishop and staff members will be on hand to answer questions.

Bishop said the exhibit focuses on each Blodgett family member’s involvement in Downers Grove and national affairs.

Israel and Avis Blodgett had eight children. Three of their sons fought in the Civil War and one participated in the California gold rush, Bishop said.

“The exhibit focuses on the Blodgett family,” he said. “The event looks at their lives separately. The children are much less known.”

Bishop and the museum staff have worked on the exhibit throughout the summer. He said they faced one drawback when planning the event.

“We don’t have a lot of objects,” Bishop said.

He explained that many Blodgett family members moved away from Downers Grove and few relics or heirlooms were left behind. No Blodgett ancestors currently live in Downers Grove.

The exhibit does feature the Medal of Honor that Wells Blodgett was awarded for bravery in the Civil War. He received the medal after charging eight Confederate soldiers and taking some of them prisoner, Bishop said.

A letter signed by President Abraham Lincoln that accompanied the medal is also on display.

Another document signed by Lincoln is also part of the exhibit. Henry Blodgett knew Lincoln and took part in his presidential campaign, Bishop said.

The exhibit also takes a look at the Blodgett’s involvement in the abolitionist cause and the Underground Railroad. The 1846 Blodgett House is documented as an active stopover on the Underground Railroad that led from slavery to freedom.

The free exhibit runs through Dec. 30 and is open from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

For more information on the exhibit, call the museum at 630-963-1309

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