Sponsors sought to add new storm windows to historic Beith House in St. Charles

At first glance, figuring out what Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley was asking donors to support was tricky. The pitch said, "Sponsor a Storm!"

Who would want to sponsor a storm unless it was a drought-breaker?

Otherwise, there are few storms that roll through here I would be inclined to want my name attached to.

Upon actually reading the announcement, the organization is seeking donors to sponsor the purchase of new storm windows for the historic 1850 Beith House at 8 Indiana St. in St. Charles.

For those unfamiliar with this house, it's tucked close to the west bank of the Fox River, a monument to the city's past near the Brownstone Townhomes, Arcedium Coffeehouse and the Eden on the River restaurant.

The storm windows will replace old ones and protect the historic windows behind them while also making temperature control inside the building easier.

A Scottish fellow named William Beith came to this country in 1843 and eventually became a well-known builder in Kane County. He built the Beith House during the years 1845 to 1850, and it currently stands as one of the only riverstone houses from the 1850s remaining in St. Charles, according to Preservation Partners, who took over operation of the house in 1980, restored it and began to operate it as a museum.

Beith House no longer operates as a museum but as a meeting place for PPV to host educational sessions, conduct event planning, meet with others in the community seeking to get involved with projects, or promote volunteer work.

The Partners are seeking donations of $850 for a second-floor window and $925 for a first-floor window, all made of African Mahogany. It's a material they say is a "dense, rot-resistant wood" that will last much longer than most wood available today.

Beith House has 16 windows that need storm window protection, and as of last week, PPV was halfway to its goal of getting all of the windows sponsored.

The storm windows are the second phase of a capital improvement project for Beith House, which hasn't had much repair work done other than routine maintenance since the 1980s, said Kelsey Shipton, executive director of Preservation Partners for the past six years.

"We had a needs assessment in 2020, and it came back with a laundry list of improvements that need to be made," Shipton added. "We'll be fixing up the exterior, adding gutters to the house because there are none, and then some roof repairs are needed."

She said the plan is to get the exterior "all closed up and tight" so interior problems like an electricity upgrade and some HVAC issues can be addressed.

"The storm windows are really the tip of the iceberg for a big project," Shipton added.

"About 200 people go through the house every year," Shipton noted. "Though we no longer operate it as a museum, it is open to the public.

"If someone walked by and wanted a tour, we do that. There are really unique things about that house that separate it from others in that era."

Those interested in sponsoring a storm window can get the details and a donation form on the organization's website at

The organization also oversees the operation of the Fabyan Villa Museum and Fabyan Japanese Garden on the grounds of Fabyan Forest Preserve and the Durant-Peterson House Museum and Sholes School Museum in LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve in St. Charles.

For those who love local history, these are all fascinating places.

More wheels in motion

The wheels are in motion to get some wheels in motion.

Batavia's plan commission and zoning board met this week to discuss any changes needed for the empty Sam's Club warehouse on Randall Road.

The intention appears to be making the necessary adjustments in zoning to allow an electric car dealership and warehouse to set up operations there.

I'm using words like "it seems" and "appears" because I am filing this before last Wednesday's Batavia meeting.

It's a good idea if things fall into place. We know another retail warehouse isn't needed there, with Costco not far away in St. Charles.

It's also not likely Randall Road would somehow become a car dealership row if one were to pop up now. Those areas are currently designated on the east side of St. Charles and small parts of Randall, along Orchard Road in North Aurora and parts of Roosevelt Road.

Column sparks networking interest

It was great to hear the Men's Networking Group had what organizers called a record turnout last month in Geneva after my Nov. 17 column about the organization established as a support group for men who have cancer or are caring for a loved one.

The turnout was so good organizers had to move it to a bigger room. I hope these men find what they are looking for in terms of knowledge or a desire to keep fighting or to relieve stress by knowing they are not alone.

With that, I want to note this month's meeting date has changed to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, at the Living Well Cancer Resource Center in Warrenville because of the Christmas holiday falling on a fourth Monday.

Otherwise, the group meets the fourth Monday of the month at Geneva's Living Well during odd months and in Warrenville during even months.

Andy's worth a taste

It never dawned on me that a frozen custard place would surface worthy enough to replace my love for the Gilles Frozen Custard shop that operated on the west side of St. Charles some 40 years ago now.

Culver's takes its best shot at doing so, and it's pretty well documented in my past columns that I love Culver's. But I like the food there as much as the custard, so it's not an exact comparison with Gilles.

But we now have Andy's Frozen Custard opening on the east side of St. Charles. It also is a worthy candidate to join Gilles in my make-believe Hall of Fame of Custards.

In past columns, I mentioned that Andy's would be coming to St. Charles. That's exciting news to me because I have been to the one on Ogden Avenue in Naperville (near my grandkids, so it's a natural stop) numerous times and the one on Randall Road in South Elgin a couple of times.

Andy's is worth a stop for those who have never tried it.

Holiday spirit with EYSO

After seeing the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra perform years ago, it always stuck with me that this is an organization that knows how to get the best out of young people who love music.

Area residents can get a taste of that and a dose of holiday spirit when the St. Charles Public Library hosts the orchestra's Sterling Brass Quintet with a 2 p.m. concert on Sunday, Dec. 10, in its Carnegie Community Room.

EYSO, and this premier brass ensemble, has performed thousands of concerts throughout the area and other parts of the country since its beginning as a small string orchestra in 1976.

The event is part of the library's Sunday Concert Series, a program funded through donations to the St. Charles Public Library Foundation.

The public is invited to this free concert at the library, 1 S. Sixth Ave.

Some high steppin'

It came and went without a lot of fanfare last week. I simply celebrated with a chocolate Frosty from Wendy's.

I hit my mark of 1,000 straight days of walking 10,000 or more steps. As I have noted, getting 10,000 steps daily is relatively easy, especially if you can knock out close to half of that on a daily morning walk.

I am most pleased that no illness or injury derailed the journey. Even some medical procedures didn't stop me from making my appointed rounds.

Following the old postal motto of delivering through rain or snow, I have not been derailed by extreme weather events. We do have a treadmill when things are a little crazy outside.

My wife gets a lot of credit for pushing me in this direction. She is also a prolific walker, compiling 20,000 or more daily steps. However, RSV derailed her last winter, which ended her streak. Our dog is part of all of this as well, which might explain why she's pretty healthy at 16 years old.

With my goal out of the way, there is an easier one (hopefully) to go after. I figured out that if I do it for 95 more days, that will give me a clean three-year run of hitting the daily goal.

There's that and the other notion that crossed my mind. No matter what sort of math I am pursuing, I couldn't find a good reason to stop doing it.

  Upper floor windows at the historic Beith House in downtown St. Charles. The window on the right has a storm window and the other does not. Paul Valade/
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