Can You Identify this Mystery Hero?

Mike Darling, who has been cataloging the military collection, is hoping that someone can identify the highly-decorated St. Charles soldier who wore this United States Army uniform during World War II. Its Eisenhower style jacket bears the insignia of a Staff Sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division and indicates he served two years overseas. 

Our Mystery Hero was a qualified paratrooper with badges for two glider landings in combat areas. His medals include two bronze stars earned for heroism in combat and a European-African-Middle Eastern campaign medal with a bronze arrow signifying landing in combat plus four stars that denote five awards of this medal. There is also a Good Conduct medal. Unit awards include a Presidential citation with two bronze oak leave clusters, denoting three awards of this decoration. He also earned an
Honorable Discharge badge.

If you know the identity of this person, please contact Alison or Amanda at or (630) 584-6967.

Hotel Baker Bellboy

—Zack VerVynck

Since I was a kid, I've been fascinated with the Hotel Baker. When I got my first job there in 2009, it began a lifelong passion for the Hotel as I started to learn its history and about the people and the stories from this special place.

I first saw the Hotel Baker Bellboy photo years ago and had wanted to draw it since then. When I finally got the photo, on the back of it was written that it was designed by John Davenport of Wheaton, Illinois.

Bob Matson recalls the original sign was on Rt. 64, east of town, across the street from what is now Pheasant Run. Mr. Baker owned the farmland, and Pheasant Run was Airport Farm, named because Mr. Baker actually started the DuPage Airport because he let some fellows use his land to start up a small landing strip there, Mr. Baker would greet guests that would fly in there to stay at the Hotel.

Airport Farm, the original barn still stands as part of Pheasant Run, was a dairy farm and Melvin Peterson and his family lived there. Mr. Peterson’s father Roy Peterson not only took care of Greyhound when he stayed at Red Gate Farm, but he was the gardener at the Hotel Baker.


The Hotel Baker Gardens originally extended all the way to where Salerno’s is today and was a landscaped riverbank park open to the public with a nine-hole miniature golf course. Canna Lilies filled the lower beds, and in the upper beds, (quoting Ron Ziegler) “giant Zinnias!  Roy Peterson planted those famous flowers.”  He recalls “the women coming thru the gardens and marveling at how big they were and wanting to take cuttings.  Roy was very proud of his flowers and gladly let them cut all they only made them bloom more profusely.”

When the Hotel was a retirement home, the property was subdivided and sold, and the Hotel Baker Garage was torn down and replaced by Carroll Tower. Midwest Groundcover was given some of the terra cotta garage murals (which are on display at their location on Rt. 25) as part of a deal for taking care of the Hotel Baker Gardens. The original name “Hotel Baker Gardens” was lost to history when the retirement home replaced Roy Peterson’s annuals with rose bushes, and since, the Hotel Baker Gardens have been referred to as likened to the White House Rose Garden.

When Melvin & Ruth Peterson married, Mr. Baker gave them the farm across the street from Airport Farm where Mr. Peterson grew up. Melvin said that Mr. Baker said “You’re a married man now, you need a home of your own.”

Melvin & Ruth Peterson's wedding, Mr. Baker congratulating the newlyweds. 

Melvin & Ruth Peterson's wedding, Mr. Baker congratulating the newlyweds. 

In a sad twist of irony, before he passed away Mr. Baker sold Airport Farm and it was developed into the Pheasant Run Resort, which would eventually put Hotel Baker out of business. Melvin Peterson’s mom made Mr. Baker his last birthday cake, (quoting Mr. Peterson) “Mr. Baker loved a Sunshine Cake, she put a little farm thing on top, he didn’t want a party or anything.” His last trip out was two days after Christmas 1958 when he went to take a last look at Airport Farm before selling it. On that day he had been very chipper. 

After Mr. Baker was gone, his niece Dellora Norris was left with “that white elephant of a Hotel,” as she called it,  she told him not to leave to her, but she ended up with because there was no one else with the money to operate it.

Mr. Baker and Dellora Norris, standing, at Hotel Baker.

Mr. Baker and Dellora Norris, standing, at Hotel Baker.

The Hotel remained in business throughout the 60s and continued to be run by Bud Ziegler, who also managed Pheasant Run and became the Norris’s property manager as he was to Mr. Baker. R. D. “Bud” Ziegler had become the youngest Hotel manager in the country, and was talked about in magazines, when Mr. Baker made him the manager of the Hotel in the 40s. Bud initially started as a bellboy and became one of Mr. Baker’s closest friends.


Zack VerVynck and his 

Hotel Baker Bellboy Signs

Purchase today in the Museum Gift Shop....

#PickletheTown Scavenger Hunt

Even though it is cold outside, there are still many Pickle Stops to discover! Here are the remaining clues and some fun pickle photographs from our archive.

1) How many pickles could a pickle promoter, promote if a pickle promoter could promote pickles? Solve this clue and find multiple pickles where history happens.

2) Is it too wild to suggest a sweet pickle macaroon?

3) Sushi boats and signature cocktails? Sake it to me!

4)Used to be a blacksmith shop around here, but this restaurant is a fine place for some baby pickles on your meat and cheese board.

5) Good luck keeping your mind on the prize when you’re surrounded by this many sweet diversions. But don’t let your search fizzle out, there’s a pickle here!

6)We can think of worse places to search forever for a pickle.

7) "Top o’ the morning!” is a fine time to search for a pickle here!

8)Not sure if the object of your quest is in our Trophy Room, but it’s as good a place to start looking as any.

9) We're the GENUINE DILL -- five-star treatment for your hair, nails, face and body. And we're the KOSHER DILL -- a MIX of science and art to give custom beauty results. You'll be PICKLED pink! Plus we provide wedding services -- and not to forget PETER PIPER -- men's services, too. So stop by, we'll PRESERVE a place for you.

10)A Chicago Great Western Train once ran through my doors.

11) Being around for 115 years it has gone by many names such as Anderson’s, but today in this 57 year old building it is the best place to look for a pickle is at the bottom of the kitchen sink!

12)Pickles usually seem more like summer grub than the center plate of a holiday feast, but in STC this year they are both where you find the very best ingredients for a savory and succulent hometown holiday adventure!”

13) Stop by this pickle stop to learn how to pickle and preserve, how to cook with and how to grow pickles! Our hidden pickle is behind glass, but not in a jar!

14) This building with gorgeous river views has all the recreational offerings for you. Award winning parks and facilities are on display, take a selfie with the pickle and be on your way.

15) Find a place that uses the natural energy of crystals to help you on your #PickleTheTown journey.

16)Oh fudge! This place is so new no one will suspect it of having a pickle.

17) Everyone knows a proper Bloody Mary includes a pickle, right Abby?

18) A pickle can be found at the building designed by the architect that was inspired by spiders.

19) Maybe their motto out to be “It’s what you’re searching for tonight”?

20) Brush in hand, what inspires you more – the pickle or the Pinot?

21) If you’re heading South for dinner, we’re the first on First!

22) Ask for “Gherkin Green” for your next manicure here and all your friends will be agape!

23) Overdo the bread and butter pickle chips last night? Get your chic on here before you head to the gym!

24) Here’s just the place to supplement your caffeine-free pickle, don’t look east of the river, we’re on the west side now!

25)"Here we are known for doing 'custom-made' work.  Each day we dig out tiny caves and store gold or silver in them.  We do everything from building bridges to making crowns.  Sooner or later everybody needs our help, but most are afraid to let us help them."

26) Somewhere near Colonial you'll pass a tin cup, And therein lies the treasure.     

27) Between yoga shaping & teens a-vaping, Is style that's beyond measure.                             

28) It's part of our history and in our name, But a beard is not required.                                      

29)Our Foosball table is ready to be played, K-cups to get you wired.                                          

30) You can sit to play a game of war, On a space that's eight-by-eight.                                      

31) In the dungeon beneath the castle's floor, The pickle lies in wait.

32) Don’t fret, this is where you might hear a tune as your next clue!

33)If you're planning for the future or need help preparing for the unexpected, this gentleman's name is the place to go.

33) “Whether you live in a Cape cod, Two story, Ranch or Victorian, this company can help you improve or update it!” 

34) We’re your one stop shop for all of your pickle printing needs.

35)Before the Arcada I was the only place in town that hosted plays and more.

36) Find the Red, White, and Blue on Avenue Two.

37) Rumor has it this was originally going to be called the Tin Pickle Theater. No, seriously!

38) Find this pickle where the Railway Express office used to be located.

39) Now find the freight elevator in the Railway Express building.

40) How does it go? “Knit one, pickle two?”

41) This USED to be a bestseller by Sandra Dallas.

42)Everybody’s favorite emoji is the “dancing pickle”. Stop by here and learn how to pickle dance properly!

43) The last place you’d look for a pickle is in a cupcake, right? Wrong!

44) Size Does Matter

45) Follow your nose to somewhere full of eclectic garden choices. You’ll find the object of your desire amidst the Flowers there.

46) Wok n’ Find your lucky pickle here

47) A great place to search for a pickle along the river calls upon Ira Minard and Reed Ferson for inspiration for their name.

Make an impact with your Year-End Giving!

Since 1834 St. Charles has been the Pride of the Fox Valley. Through exhibits, educational programs, articles, and social media the St. Charles History Museum strives to share the important stories and fun facts about St. Charles' rich history with residents and visitors alike.

Over the last two years the St. Charles History Museum has been on a mission to become a better member of the community. In January of 2015 the St. Charles Heritage Center (St. Charles History Museum), a 501 (c) (3) not for profit organization, embarked on an ambitious capital project that is essential in furthering its mission to collect, preserve, and present the history through its permanent exhibit and ability to present educational programming.

With these changes the museum has been able to offer a variety of new programs and rotating temporary exhibits throughout the last two years. A third of the museum's operating budget comes from donations like yours. Please consider supporting our efforts to collect, preserve, and present these stories.

We hope you will help enable us to continue bringing all of this to our wonderful community.

Donate Today

The Wild Rose Bell

The Wild Rose Bell

Sitting just out side the St. Charles History Museum is a ship bell that might seem a little out of place for the Fox River Valley. Donated to the Museum by Thomas E. Rosensteel and Nuala McKiernan Rosensteel from the Wild Rose Farm property, the bell has a unique history which started on the trade routes of the Mississippi, passed through Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and finally ended on the front patio of our Museum.

Take a Look At Our New Gift Shop Items!

We've recently added a bunch of new items to our Gift Shop.  Whether you're a long time resident or new to town, check out these great St Charles gifts!

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Our new items are available at great prices! Coffee mugs are $10, The Who shirts are $20, History Happens Here t-shirts are $15, the handmade scarves are $15, handmade double stitched tote bags are $25, handmade uniquely designed doll dresses are $20, and jewelry ranges from $5 to $40.

Remembering St. Charles Veterans

Remembering St. Charles Veterans

The St. Charles community has a long and proud history of military service. From the Revolutionary War onward, members of our community have dedicated themselves to protecting and fighting for our country.

In honor of that service, we've put together a gallery of photographs from the archives to celebrate and remember the veterans of our community.