We opened a new special exhibit at the Little White School Museum here in Oswego on Aug. 1 titled “Picturing Oswegoland.”
The museum is located at 72 Polk Street (Jackson at Polk), just a couple blocks east of the historic downtown business district here in Oswego. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free, but we don’t turn donations down.
The exhibit was the brainchild of my fellow volunteer, Bob Stekl, who is the museum’s assistant director, and includes a few more than 240 images of Oswego and the surrounding area that date from the 19th Century through the 20th Century and into the 21st Century.
Since this blog’s readers don’t all live in or near Oswego, I thought I’d put up a selection of the images now on exhibit so you can get an idea of what it’s like. “Picturing Oswegoland” will be up through Sept. 1, so you’ve got a couple more weeks to go if you’re up to planning a visit.
Here are the images I selected:
Farmers in the area of Wolf’s Crossing and Harvey roads were members of the Harvey Threshing Ring. The small grains (oats, wheat, barley, rye) was pretty labor-intensive back in the day.
Not many people know the Aurora Country Club got its start at the Boulder Hill Stock Farm–site of today’s Boulder Hill Subdivision. The clubhouse (top) was the A.C. Hyde House, which is still standing on Briarcliff Road.
The Church of the Good Shepherd United Methodist is still a community landmark after standing at Washington and Madison streets for well over a century.
They used some serious equipment to thresh grain back in the day.
In 1903, you could hop the interurban trolley car at Main and Washington streets for a trip to Aurora to shop or to go to high school or work. The two ladies at right have just gotten off the trolley and are walking home. Note the horse and buggy on Main Street.
Another 1903 image we believe was taken by Mary Cutter Bickford looking north towards the bridge from behind the houses along South Main Street.
A nice postcard view of the Main Street business district looking north. Note the trolley tracks at left and the trolley’s electrical wires above the tracks. And you can’t miss the tangle of telephone lines on the poles on the east side of Main Street as two phone companies battled each other.
The 1905 Oswego High School Baseball Team on the steps of the old Red Brick School. The boys are wearing hand-me-down jerseys from the East Oswego men’s baseball team that was mostly comprised of farm boys from the Wolf’s Crossing Road area.
One of my all-time favorite Oswego photos, snapped by Daniel Bloss at exactly 3:30 p.m. on June 5, 1910. Talk about your shapshots in time!
The student body of the Lumbard School, often incorrectly called the Lombard School, that was located over in the Hafenrichter Road area. Check out all the barefoot kids…no dress code back then!
Another one of my favorite Oswego shots, taken on Washington Street at Main, looking east towards what was then the German Evangelical Church. It nicely illustrates the era when automobiles were beginning to displace horse-drawn transport.
The Oswego area once had its very own amusement park, Riverview Park, located on the site of the old Western Electric plant right across the river from Boulder Hill. It was a happening place with visitors taken there by the trolley line that ran from Aurora to Yorkville.
Another Riverview Park postcard view. The name was changed about 1906 to Fox River Park to differentiate it from the much larger Riverview Park in Chicago. Fox River Park featured a rollercoaster, giant merry-to-round, shoot the chutes, boating, and much more.
In 1912, Oswego implement dealer Bob Johnson sold 25 new Acme binders that arrived just in time for that year’s small grain harvest. The binders paraded through town down to “The Flats” just above the Oswego Bridge for this group photo before their owners drove them home.
A nice view of the Red Brick School before the 1920s classroom and gymnasium addition. The photo was taken by Dwight Young.
Dr. Lewis Weishew built this medical clinic at Main and Van Buren Streets in 1922. This photo was probably taken shortly after the building was finished.
Earl Zentmyer bought the A.O Parke building on Main at Jackson Street from Gus Shoger and opened his first Ford dealership and gas station in it. He eventually bought the old livery stable across Main Street from it and moved his dealership there, although he retained ownership of the building.
Nothing like a spirited game of leapfrog during recess, I always say. Bronk School, which marked the southern edge of the Oswego School District, was located at Caton Farm and Ridge roads–and still stands as a private home.
Downtown Oswego all decorated up to celebrate the community’s centennial in 1933.
Charlie Schultz (left) and Carl Bohn show off their brand new Birdseye frozen food display case in downtown Oswego in 1940.
The CB&Q’s gass-electric passenger car, nicknamed “The Dinky” by its riders, pulls out of the Oswego railroad station in 1942 on its way south through Yorkville and Ottawa to Streator. Passenger service was offered until 1952 when it was replaced by bus service.
Saying the pledge at Church School out in Wheatland Township during World War II.
The area enjoyed the occasional visit from an international celebrity, including a 1949 visit from the Prime Minister of India.
Postcard celebrating the opening of St. Anne’s Catholic Church in 1954. The reason it looks like half a building is because it was. Original plans called for eventually doubling the church’s size with an addition to the east, but instead a new church was built on Boulder Hill Pass.
I was in the last high school class to graduate from this building in the spring of 1964. Then it became Oswego Junior High and later Traughber Junior High.
Speaking of schools, Willow Hill School was one of the last one-room schools in the Oswego School District. This photo was taken by Everett Hafenrichter.
Building U.S. Route 30 Bypass in 1958, with the Boulder Hill Playhouse in the background.
Oswego’s Jim Wormley’s dad, Myron, was one of the many area farmers who raised tomatoes commercially in the 1950s. His son, Jim, became one of the advertising faces of Campbell’s Soup.
Everyone’s pretty excited at this basketball game in this photo from the 1960 Oswego High School yearbook, The Reflector.
Leonard Hafenrichter captured this snapshot of the Federated Church–now the Church of the Good Shepherd–in the spring of 1960.
CB&Q locomotives rumble past the Oswego Depot in September 1965.
Dave “Chopper” Babcock encourages players during the 1977 varsity football season. I believe this is a Jon Cunningham photo, but am not sure.
This landmark out on the Oswego Prairie, with its lighted cross atop the bell tower, is still standing.
Stop by the museum from now through Sept. 1 and see all the images we’ve selected to exhibit from our collection of more than 10,000 prints, negatives, transparancies, tintypes, Daguerreotypes, and Ambrotypes. After all, it’s free, and it will be your last chance for a while to see most of these before we put them away again.
The Little White School Museum is a cooperative project of the not-for-profit Oswegoland Heritage Association and the Oswegoland Park District.