Preservation Week Celebrates Wheaton History

Wheaton’s Preservation Week is an annual event coordinated by the City of Wheaton Historic Commission as part of the annual national celebration in May by the National Trust for Historic Preservation known as Preservation Month. This year’s Preservation Week will be held from May 10-20, with several local organizations participating. The Historic Commission is pleased to promote this year’s special activities and events.

Pride in Preservation Signs

As part of Preservation Week, the Historic Commission places “Pride in Preservation” purple lawn signs throughout Wheaton at various sites designated Wheaton Historic Landmarks and locations listed on the Wheaton Register of Historic Places. Many of these sites include a plaque with the estimated date of construction or a permanent interpretive sign with more additional information. 

See an online tour of some of these sites with images and brief information on the City's website by selecting “Wheaton’s Landmark Homes.”

Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Wheaton Grand Theater 

Date: Saturday, May 11, 2013 
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Wheaton Grand Theater, 123 N. Hale St.
As you travel through downtown Wheaton, have you ever asked yourself, “I wonder what is happening with the Wheaton Grand Theater?” This is your chance to find out. Come learn about the storied history and future plans for the Wheaton Grand Theater, built in 1925, and currently being restored and updated for community use. This informal behind-the-scenes tour will be facilitated by the developer team completing the restoration. This is one of the few Wheaton properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Meet at the Wheaton Grand Theater on Saturday, May 11 at 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

“How Wheaton Won the Civil War (with a Little Help from General Grant and Some Others)” lecture by Dr. David Maas

Date: Thursday, May 16
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Wheaton Public Library, 225 N. Cross St., lower level large meeting room
Phone: 630-668-1374
In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, Dr. David Maas, Emeritus Professor of History at Wheaton College and author of “Marching to the Drumbeat of Abolition: Wheaton College in the Civil War,” will discuss our nation’s struggle for freedom. The lecture, “How Wheaton Won the Civil War (with a Little Help from General Grant and Some Others),” will open with the broad background of the Civil War, and then shift to a close examination of the response in DuPage County, and end with the stories of a few Wheaton families caught in the vortex of the war. The lecture will last 45 minutes with 15 minutes for questions and comments. This event is sponsored by the Historic Commission as a program of Preservation Week. The event is free and open to the public at the Wheaton Public Library.

Home History Research at Wheaton Public Library

Location: Wheaton Public Library, 225 N. Cross St.
Phone: 630-668-1374
Interested in learning more about your old home: when it was built, what architectural style it is, or who used to live there? The Wheaton Historic Commission, in conjunction with the Wheaton Public Library, has compiled an updated “Home History Research File” and the “Guide to Wheaton Sources” to direct you to appropriate resources. Learn how to consult old city directories, newspapers, census returns, Sanborn maps, aerial views, cemetery records and local histories at the library. These materials also provide information about nominating Wheaton properties to the Wheaton Register of Historic Places, a program of the City of Wheaton Historic Commission.

Billy Graham’s Wheaton Walking Tour

Date: Saturday, May 18
Time:10 a.m.
Location: Billy Graham Center, 500 College Ave., Wheaton
RSVP: 630-752-5910
Before Billy Graham was a preacher speaking to crowds of tens of thousands in London, Moscow, New York, and hundreds of other cities, he was a young man in Wheaton, Illinois. Find out more about the Wheaton roots of this world-famous figure.

On Saturday, May 18, at 10 a.m., as part of the Wheaton Preservation Week, Bob Shuster of the staff of the Billy Graham Center Archives will lead a Walking Tour of Billy Graham’s Wheaton. This tour is sponsored by the Wheaton Historical Commission. The tour will cover about a mile and a half and will last approximately 90 minutes to two hours. We will visit a number of sites in the town and on the campus of Wheaton College that were connected with Graham during his days as a student (1940-1943) and with his long association with Wheaton during the rest of his life and ministry.

The tour is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP to the BGC Archives at 630-752-5910 or with your name, how many people will be in your party, and a phone number and e-mail we can reach you at in case the tour is canceled because of weather.

Downtown Wheaton Historic Walking Tours

Date: By reservation
Location: DuPage County Historical Museum, 102 E. Wesley St.
Phone: 630-510-4941
DuPage County Historical Museum offers two architecture walking tours to celebrate the City of Wheaton Preservation Week. The tours are offered at various times on a reservation-basis. Tours are available Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Please contact the museum at 630-510-4941 or email to arrange a tour.

  • Architectural Walking Tour
    Enjoy a stroll through historic Downtown Wheaton. Learn about the people, businesses and important events that shaped our area. The tour begins at the DuPage County Historical Museum and proceeds through town. Discover the stories behind the railroad, the County Courthouse and more. Participants should wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Approximately 1.5 miles are covered during the tour. Cost: $6 per person.
  • All About Architecture (For Kids!)
    Buildings are works of art in which we live, work and learn. Join us on a special architecture tour especially for kids. Discover the stories behind the railroad, the County Courthouse and more. Participants should wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. Approximately 1.5 miles are covered during the tour. $4 per person.

Cantigny Park: Free Parking for Wheaton Residents May 10-20

Dates: May 10-20
Location: Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton
Phone: 630-668-5161
During Preservation Week, May 10-20, 2013, Cantigny Park will provide free parking days for Wheaton residents. Just show proof of Wheaton residency at the parking booth for admittance. A valid driver’s license is preferred. Museums, gardens and other attractions inside the park are always free admission.

About Cantigny Park: Cantigny Park, part of the Chicago-based Robert R. McCormick Foundations, is the 500-acre estate of Robert R. McCormick (1880-1955), longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. It is home to 30 acres of gardens, the Robert R. McCormick Museum, the First Division Museum and a 27-hole golf course. All are open to the public.

The Robert R. McCormick Museum was listed on the Wheaton Register of Historic Places in 2011 by the City of Wheaton Historic Commission.


The Wheaton Historic Commission also suggests several upcoming events beyond Preservation Week related to Wheaton-area history.

Milton Township Cemetery Authority / Friends of Pioneer Cemetery hosts free events in May and June

  • Jewel Grove Cemetery Memorial Day Civil War Ceremony:
    A ceremony to commemorate Memorial Day, buried Civil War veterans, and the restoration of the Jewel Grove Cemetery will be held on Saturday, May 25 from 11 a.m.-12 p.m. and will feature Civil War period characters.
    Details: Jewel Grove Cemetery is on the west side of Champion Forest Court (a dead end street) just south of Jewel Road. Park in the nearby Carl Sandburg Elementary School parking lot, and walk south from the parking lot. Suggested arrival of 10:30 a.m.
  • Pleasant Hill Cemetery Family Day:
    An annual celebratory event for all ages featuring the American Legion Band from Aurora playing patriotic songs, the appearance of Civil War period characters, a canon firing, and refreshments will be held on Saturday, June 29 starting at 11 a.m.
    Details: Pleasant Hill Cemetery is at the southeast corner of Geneva Road and Coventry Street. Park in the nearby Wheaton Bowl parking lot (2031 North Gary Avenue, Wheaton, IL) and ride the shuttle bus to the cemetery. Suggested arrival of 10-10:30 a.m.

Milton Township Cemeteries Authority,1492 N. Main St., 630-668-7551

Other Wheaton Organizations to Investigate:

Center for History
315 W. Front St., 2nd Floor
Phone: 630-871-6601

Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections
501 College Ave.
Phone: 630-752-5705

Theosophical Society in America
1926 N. Main St.
Phone: 630-668-1571

For more on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preservation Month, see: