Happy 185th Anniversary St. Charles!

2019 marks the 185th Anniversary of St. Charles.  We are highlighting stories from our rich history all year long, with a special recognition in May. To kick things off, below is an overview of some milestone events that have shaped our community. Credit to St. Charles: Culture and Leisure in An All-American Town by Costas Spirou.

  • In the fall of 1833 after the end of the Black Hawk War, Evan Shelby explored the Fox Valley and claimed a site which was to become St. Charles. 
  • In 1834, Evan Shelby, Ira Minard and Read Ferson founded the town and named it Charleston after a town in Mr. Ferson’s home state of Vermont. The town name was changed to St. Charles because there already was a town called Charleston in downstate Illinois.
  • In 1874, St. Charles became incorporated with Dr. James K. Lewis as the first mayor.
  • The first bridge across the Fox was built in 1836 and was 18 feet wide.  An ice storm and flood destroyed the bridge in 1849 and ferry service provided transportation across the river.
  • The first general store in town was built in 1836 by Ira Minard.
  • Lester Norris invested $500,000 to build the Arcada Theatre which opened on Labor Day in 1926.
  • Built by Colonel Edward J. Baker, the Hotel Baker opened its doors on June 2, 1928.
  • On May 20, 1912, Pottawatomie Park was established as the first public park in Illinois.
  • The St. Charles Country Club was established in 1924 and the golf course was opened in 1926.
  • In 1940, the Municipal Building was completed and entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.
  • In 1963, Edward McArdle opened Pheasant Run resort.
  • In 1972, Dellora and Lester Norris donated 70 acres of land where St. Charles East High School was built. Additional Norris grants were responsible for construction of the Dellora Norris Cultural Arts Center, the Lester Norris Sports Complex and the John B. Norris Recreation Center.
  • The Flea Market moved to St. Charles in 1967 and has become a monthly event for residents and visitors.
  • Our Scarecrow Fest, established in 1985 and is nationally recognized as one of our country’s best.
  • And in 2011 St. Charles was named #1 for families by Family Circle magazine.
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