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Opinion

Picturing the Past in Geneva

Fabyan Windmill. Taken by Phil Dunn at the Fabyan Forest Preserve in September 1985.
Fabyan Windmill. Taken by Phil Dunn at the Fabyan Forest Preserve in September 1985.

Picture caption: Fabyan Windmill. Taken by Phil Dunn at the Fabyan Forest Preserve in September 1985.

In April 1940 the famous Fabyan Estate became property of the Kane County Forest Preserve Commission. Located on 245 acres, the property stretches along both sides of the Fox River. The Forest Preserve purchased the land for $70,000 (approximately $1.3 million in 2019). The estate was the home of Colonel George B. Fabyan and his wife, Mrs. Nelle Fabyan.

Nelle’s love for animals prompted George to construct and fill different animal cages including monkeys, bears, peacocks, ostriches, and alligators. The bears were fussy eaters, so the Fabyans imported special pumpernickel bread just for them. Their cage contained a large tree stump, upon which the bears could climb, and a water trough for drinking and bathing. During the winter, the bears hibernated in a low, wooden house attached to the west end of the cage.

In honor of the 80th anniversary of the sale to the Kane County Forest Preserve, the Geneva History Museum is hosting a Brown Bag lecture at noon on Tuesday, November 2 with the current Director of the Fabyan Villa and Japanese Garden, Vivian Lasken. She will share with the audience stories from from the Fabyan Forest Preserve’s history.

The Geneva History Museum is located at 113 South Third Street and ia a non-profit organization with a mission to share and preserve Geneva’s evolving story while inspiring and engaging the community. To register for this event, please visit www.genevahistorymuseum.com or call 630-232-4951

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