Big Woods School Foundation will hold the walk from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16...

ALERT: Aurora history to come alive at Big Woods Cemetery Walk; benefit for 1918 school renovation Saturday

AURORA, Ill., Oct. 14, 2021 — Historic Aurora voices will come alive during the Big Woods Cemetery Walk this weekend.

Big Woods School Foundation will hold the walk from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at the cemetery, 3033 N. Eola Rd. in Aurora. Proceeds will benefit restoration of Big Woods Elementary School, a one-room schoolhouse which served students from 1918 to 1963.

The public is invited. Parking is free at the St. Athanasius the Great Church, south of the cemetery.

Guided small-group tours will depart every 15 minutes from the cemetery gate to five character portrayals by volunteer actors. Visitors should bring flashlights and wear comfortable shoes. Children age 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

Featured characters will be Israel Warner, an American Revolution patriot; members of Ferry, Warne and Bartholomew families, Big Woods area’s first families; and Anna Brown, who with her husband donated the cemetery land. The Brown family home is visible from the cemetery where graves date to the 1830s.

Admission is a $10 donation. Children age 7 and under are free. Tickets are available at Bigwoodsschool.org and at the event. In case of rain, the walk will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23.

Walk sponsor is the Big Woods School Foundation, a nonprofit that preserves the historic schoolhouse. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016.

The foundation plans a complete restoration of the school, starting with a roof repair to protect the building from interior damage and prepare it for the next phase of the restoration.

Call (630) 202-8206 or visit Bigwoodsschool.org for more information.

About Big Woods School

Built in 1917-18 and used until 1963, it replaced the original Big Woods School which was built in the mid-19th century and had fallen into disrepair. The red brick school building has a Craftsman design.

It was one of the first schoolhouses in DuPage County built after Illinois’ Sanitation Law of 1915, which created a set of modern safety and sanitation standards for the state’s public schools. The school’s plan is essentially the same as that recommended by the state, with considerations for playground space, lighting, ventilation, and indoor plumbing.

In 1963, the school closed due to consolidation with two nearby schools, and the building was sold to the Big Woods School Foundation, a not-for-profit preservation group.

The schoolhouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016. In mid-September, Big Woods School Foundation was awarded a $50,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Capital Grants program. The grant will be used for the repair and restoration of the Big Woods School’s terra cotta tile roof.


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Al Benson
Freelance Photo-Journalist

Al Benson is an Aurora-based freelance photo-journalist. He is currently an archives research specialist at Aurora University. His work has appeared in The Voice, The Daily Herald, The Beacon-News, and the Chicago Tribune.



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