Geneva's Berry House shops get a makeover
"It just looks beautiful," said Janice Weller.
As owner of the Geneva Antique Market for the past 29 years, she qualifies as an authority on how things look at The Berry House shops at 227 S. Third St. in Geneva.
Her market was one of the first tenants in The Berry House all of those years ago, so the current remodeling and general makeover of the site earns a thumbs-up from Weller.
It's not a complete makeover yet, as The Berry House is in the midst of an advanced interior remodeling. It has the merchants there excited for what it could mean for customers.
Weller had to close her antique market in the building's lower level for two weeks to allow construction crews to finish that part of the project. Her glowing review of the work indicates it was well worth it.
She is now rearranging her wares in glass cases in the hallways near her store, and will add artwork and benches to that mix soon.
"I haven't changed the layout here in so many years, I am just trying to make sure I do it right," Weller said, while placing pieces in the cases.
Trying to "do it right" could also be the mantra of the building owners initiating this upgrade and also planning new signs, landscaping and patio areas outside.
Jim Coleman, senior vice president of Coleman Land Company in St. Charles, has managed The Berry House property for the better part of the past 20 years. He feels it is in great hands now.
"I sold it a little over a year ago to Vantell Group, which is partners Don VanThournout and Brandt Sartell, and they decided it was time to make it a place that is welcoming and well-lit," Coleman said.
The Berry House represents "one of the best locations in Geneva for commercial property along Third Street," Coleman added. "They put together a plan for both the outside and inside of the building."
The upper level that houses the El Molcajete on 3rd restaurant and Little Red Barn Door furnishings also has a remodeled hallway, new light fixtures and woodwork.
Edy Molina, president of Elgin-based MolsTruction, has his crews working evening shifts to get the work done, so as not to bother merchants or shoppers during the day. Last week, the main floor was still undergoing work.
Lawn Boyzz will handle plans for the outdoor makeover, which will include new patio areas.
"It is so nice to see someone come in and really want to make The Berry House light and bright and attractive," Coleman said.
And it is already making a difference for a key critic, Coleman added.
"It was hard for me to get my wife to come into The Berry House because she thought it was always kind of dark and dingy, but that is no longer the case, as she's very happy to go there now."
Anybody who had the same notion in years past should visit The Berry House now, Coleman contends.
"It's not quite done yet, but it is getting there," he said. "It is going to make a difference."
Steaming through Geneva:
What better way for the Union Pacific's Big Boy 4014 steam locomotive to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad than to come through Geneva's train station?
The train will be in West Chicago this weekend, and is scheduled to depart West Chicago at 8 a.m. Tuesday, July 30, which would have it steaming through Geneva about 10 to 15 minutes later on its way to Rochelle, where it is scheduled to arrive at 9:45 a.m.
A multimedia walk-through exhibit is part of Big Boy's stay in West Chicago, where people can visit the train at the Union Pacific Larry S. Provo Training Center, 335 Spencer St.
Two years of restoration work on the train has allowed it to get back on the tracks to celebrate one of the nation's most amazing transportation projects and engage in its own "The Great Race Across the Midwest."
Sparkling new red:
It's been around for some time, but this concept of "Christmas in July" seemed to really take off this year. As the month winds down, we noticed many stores, organizations and churches hosting fundraisers or sales that carried a holiday season theme during weeks in which the thermometer was hitting 90 degrees.
One of the most interesting examples had to come from The Salvation Army, as its Christmas in July "happening" stressed volunteer work, of which the organization relies heavily year-round.
Caterpillar employees volunteered as part of a Fox Valley United Way effort to paint the iconic Salvation Army red kettles to make them look new when bell ringing begins in six months.
Volunteers had kettles and tarps spread around the outside of the Salvation Army Tri-City Corps site in St. Charles. And the red paint got a workout in the process.
More Christmas in July:
TriCity Family Services got into the "Christmas in July" spirit this month as well, staging a fundraiser at Geneva United Methodist Church in which about 30 crafters sold all types of goods -- some holiday related, others just nice jewelry or interesting products for families and kids.
Yes, my wife took me along to this summer taste of the holidays, so I walked out with a jar of apple pie jam, a giant double chocolate chip cookie with cream, and a slab of fudge. So you know what booths I stopped at.
But others caught my attention as well. Janet Solis had a presentation for her ImageTech word art and digital design business, with an interesting display of chalk art.
And Karen Carlson was explaining how her Grandma's Magic Pillows, small pillows to cover a child's eyes to, help calm down kids for their rest or nap times.
Ring Bomb Party business owner Tina Rossi intrigued many of the ladies in attendance. It's essentially a business in which you purchase a large Fizz tablet, or tablets, that has a ring inside worth anywhere from $20 to $500 after it is dissolved.
The target audience for the Ring Bomb Party would be any type of party in which ladies get together. It would provide a fun twist to a bachelorette or birthday party.
Keep your eyes open for this event on July 25 next year, and for many other holiday-themed events in this area.
Look to the skies:
At our recent visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, the exhibits about storms caught my attention.
The "Tornado Alley" movie in the museum's Giant Dome Theater puts you right inside an armored vehicle in the middle of a tornado with storm chasers collecting data about the storm.
Anyone who has been to WGN weather forecaster Tom Skilling's spring presentations at Fermilab about tornadoes has learned much about Mother Nature unleashing her wrath in this manner.
For those who haven't been to any of the above educational outlets, the Geneva Library will host a session titled "Illinois Storm Chasers" from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 30.
Illinois Storm Chasers founders Danny Neal and Adam Lucio will share their knowledge on local climate and the routine of storm chasing and spotting.