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Doors Open: Durant House Museum and Pioneer Sholes School


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A working house museum and historic school that demonstrates how Illinois' pioneers and settlers would have lived in the late 19th century!

In 1837, Bryant Durant moved from Massachusetts to northern Illinois. The prairie farmhouse was constructed just prior to his marriage to Jerusha Shurtleffin 1843. The Durants had six children, all of whom were born and raised in the little brick house.

In the 1880’s Godfrey and Christina Peterson purchased the property, and they added a modern Victorian kitchen to the house. The addition is still present and is interpreted as part of the tour. They also had six children.

The Durant-Peterson House was rescued in the early 1970 after decades of neglect. Visionary members of a local Questers antique study group recognized the homestead’s value as a vital part of our shared history and completed an authentic restoration in the mid-70s.

Today, the Durant House is recognized as Kane County’s own “Little House on the Prairie.” The Museum can be enjoyed in all the seasons, with special programs throughout the year designed to highlight a prairie family’s routines of work and play. A visit to the house offers a unique history experience. Costumed docents bring the past to life interpreting the prairie pioneer experience in this nationally recognized historic site. The Durant House Museum beckons visitors of all ages to come enjoy a trip back in time.

The Pioneer Sholes School heralds back to a simpler time; a one-room school house dated from 1872 that currently serves as a living history museum and classroom. This school was originally located on David Sholes farm in Burlington Township, near the crossing of Burlington and Plato. According to an old map of Kane County, the first school on this site was built before 1860, though by 1872, the current building had been constructed.

The Sholes land was then sold to Louis Schairer, who was heavily involved in school affairs. In the early 1900s, teachers would often board at the Schairer residence or teachers and students would warm themselves at the Schairer home when the school's heating failed. The school served the neighboring areas until 1946-47, when Kane County started their school consolidation project. Over 135 small schools were closed down and their buildings converted to everything from chicken coops to residences.

The Sholes School building was never converted. It sat idle on Campbell’s land from 1947 until 1979 when Campbell donated it to the Kane County Forest Preserve in memory of his mother who had taught at the school in 1913-1915.

At that time, the Pioneer Sholes School Restoration Society formed to move and restore the building. Because the building itself was in significant disrepair by late 1970’s, much work was required to return the building to its current state. The following sources provided significant furnishings in the school:

  • The antique floor boards come from a barn near DeKalb.
  • The tin ceiling is from the old Leath Furniture Building in Aurora.
  • The blackboards are from the original Louise White School in Batavia.
  • The school bell in the cupola was donated in memory of Martha Campbell.
  • The sconces in the vestibule were given by descendants of David Sholes.

Event Details

Aug 25 to Aug 26, 2018

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