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Aurora in Kane County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall

Downtown Heritage Tour

— 9 —

 
 
Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 26, 2016
1. Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall Marker
Inscription.  The Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall was built in 1877-1878, and is one of Aurora's most widely recognized landmarks. The hall served as a meeting place for Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) or "Union" veterans of the Civil War. After the war, a Soldier's Memorial Association formed in order to raise money for a traditional monument to honor GAR veterans. Local businessman Fred White had seen a memorial building in Foxboro, Massachusetts, built in 1868. He proposed that Aurora build just such a structure, arguing it would be more useful than an ordinary monument. It took a year to build the hall. The one and one-half story Gothic Revival style structure was constructed of locally quarried limestone. The land for the building, and most of the materials and labor were donated by the citizens of Aurora.

The cornerstone was laid in 1877, and the building was dedicated in 1878. The building was capped with a 700 lb. statue of a soldier on guard duty. Two Confederate cannons were installed in 1881, flanking the main entrance. In 1881, the new Aurora Public Library Association relocated to the GAR Hall. An addition was built onto the
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southern end of the building in 1885-1886. The GAR building served as the City's Public Library until 1904 when the new library was built on Benton Street. The existing tower was built at that time, and the Veterans resumed their use of the building. In the early 1960s, the City planned to demolish the GAR building to make room for additional parking, but public outcry saved the building. Although the 1885 addition was demolished, the 1904 tower with its castle-like profile survived. (Marker Number 9.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: ArchitectureFraternal or Sororal OrganizationsPatriots & PatriotismWar, US Civil. A significant historical year for this entry is 1878.
 
Location. 41° 45.403′ N, 88° 18.95′ W. Marker is in Aurora, Illinois, in Kane County. Marker can be reached from East Downer Place east of South Stolp Avenue, on the right when traveling east. Marker is located next to the subject building, just to the right of the front entrance. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 23 East Downer Place, Aurora IL 60505, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Dedicated in Memory of Our Fathers (a few steps from this marker); Aurora Silverplate Manufacturing Co. (within shouting distance of this marker); BPO Elk's Club Building (about 400 feet away, measured
Marker detail: Grand Army of the Republic Hall, circa 1896 image. Click for full size.
Courtesy Aurora Historical Society
2. Marker detail: Grand Army of the Republic Hall, circa 1896
This photo shows the G.A.R. in about 1896, when it was in use as the Public Library. Visible are the Confederate cannons, installed in 1881, and the metal cresting on the roof, which has been removed. The photo was taken before the "tower" addition was constructed in 1904. Note the old City Hall Building to the right.
in a direct line); Aurora Public Library (about 400 feet away); Leland Hotel (about 500 feet away); Paramount Theatre (about 600 feet away); Aurora Hotel • Leland Hotel (about 600 feet away); Former U.S. Post Office (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Aurora.
 
Regarding Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall. National Register of Historic Places #84001130.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Aurora, Illinois — Downtown Heritage Tour
 
Also see . . .
1. Grand Army of the Republic Hall (Wikipedia). The hall was the meeting place of the Aurora G.A.R. Post No. 20, which was one of 779 posts in the Department of Illinois. Any honorably discharged Union veteran of the war could join the group. The group was formally recognized until the death of its last member, Daniel Augustus Wedge, in 1947. (Submitted on April 5, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall. Aurora Post 20 was completed in 1878 for the sum of $7,184. It served as a gathering place for men
Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 26, 2016
3. Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall Marker
who had fought side by side on the battlefields, it was a shrine to the Union dead, and it was a place of scholarship-Aurora’s first free library. (Submitted on April 5, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall Entrance image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 26, 2016
4. Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall Entrance
Two Confederate cannons were installed in 1881, flanking the main entrance.
Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall Tower image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 26, 2016
5. Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall Tower
(1904 tower addition with castle-like profile)
Civil War Cannon (<i>in front of GAR Hall</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 26, 2016
6. Civil War Cannon (in front of GAR Hall)
The Pioneer of Aurora
June 18th 1851
Love Bros
Charles M. Burgess Memorial (<i>at base of flag pole</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 26, 2016
7. Charles M. Burgess Memorial (at base of flag pole)
In memory of
Charles M. Burgess
1896-1972
Soldier, Statesman, Businessman, Friend
given by his many friends
November 1972
Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, August 26, 2016
8. Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 5, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 334 times since then and 132 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on April 5, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Jul. 20, 2024