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Fullersburg Historic Foundation

P. O. Box 5131

Oak Brook, IL  60522

fullersburghistoric@gmail.com

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Heritage Sites of Old Fullersburg

Welcome to the Fullersburg Historic District, one of the oldest settlements in DuPage County. Originally known as Brush Hill, Fullersburg was the only settlement between Chicago and Naperville along Ogden Avenue (The Old Plank Road) in the mid-1830’s. Download the Timeline of Historic Fullersburg.

 

The following sites are listed in the same order as the walking tour. Download the Walking Tour.

Ben Fuller Farmhouse

The c.1840 Ben Fuller farmhouse stands today upon a gently sloping hill at the southeast corner of the Graue Mill parking lot. White framed with green shutters, the farmhouse recalls early settlement days when most of northeastern Illinois was still a wilderness and Chicago was a young city on the shores of Lake Michigan.The Ben Fuller farmhouse was originally located at 948 York Road in Hinsdale, currently the site of the Graue Mill Professional Building. It was moved to its present location on property owned by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County in 1981 to preserve the historic structure from demolition.Ben Fuller built his Greek Revival farmhouse just a short walking distance south of his country store establishment called "The Farmer's Home" known today as the York Tavern. The farmhouse was built using a new construction technique invented in Chicago called "balloon frame." This method revolutionized the construction of wood frame buildings by using machine-cut lumber in place of traditional hand-hewn timbers and joints. Both the Ben Fuller Farmhouse and the York Tavern were likely built with lumber processed at the saw mill owned and operated by Nicholas Torode which originally stood on the present-day Graue Mill site.The Ben Fuller farmhouse is believed to be one of the best examples of balloon frame construction still surviving in northeastern Illinois. The exterior of the farmhouse was restored in the 1980's. Plans are now underway to historically restore the interior of the farmhouse, add the summer kitchen at the back of the house destroyed by fire in 1981, develop exhibits of the era, including old farming tools and Native American artifacts, and open the farmhouse to the public for viewing and educational tours.

During the time when Ben Fuller occupied the farmhouse, the community he founded here called Fullersburg was the only stage coach stop along Ogden Avenue (known as the Old Plank Road) between Chicago and Naperville. This bustling community thrived and prospered for many years. When restored, the Ben Fuller farmhouse will welcome visitors to Old Fullersburg and invite them to reflect upon the lives of early residents and to think of those travelers who stopped here for an evening's lodging and a good meal over 170 years ago.

Graue Mill Dam

The Graue Mill Dam on Salt Creek is one of the most visited places in DuPage County. More than 100,000 people come here each year to enjoy the waterfall and the scenic beauty of the site. Salt Creek meanders through the Fullersburg Historic District and its waters enter the sluice gates of the Graue Mill much as they did decades ago.

The current dam is not the first to be built here. The first dam, built in 1837, was made of brush and mud and quickly washed out. It was followed by a dam made of logs, but the log dam became unstable and had to be replaced following several washouts. The replacement dam was built in 1889 by Frederick Graue, owner of the Graue Mill, using crib and plank construction. But this dam also proved unstable and was replaced in 1914 by a concrete dam. Unfortunately, the concrete dam only lasted until 1917 before it also washed out.

The stone Graue Mill Dam enjoyed by visitors today replaced the old concrete dam. Built in 1935 during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), the historic Graue Mill Dam has stood at this location for 75 years. For many visitors, young and old, the Graue Mill Dam is one of their fondest memories of this beautiful area owned by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

Today, nature artists and photographers are drawn to capture the picturesque beauty of the Graue Mill Dam on canvas and through the lens. School groups come here for educational field trips and nature lovers, birders and trail users stop to enjoy a pause from the hectic pace of suburban life at the dam's edge and listen to the tranquil sound of falling water.

The Graue Mill Dam is one of the historic treasures of DuPage County and should be preserved for the enjoyment of present visitors and future generations.

The Mammoth Spring Ice House

 

The Mammoth Spring Ice House was built in 1880 by John F. Ruchty, owner of the Mammoth Spring Ice Company, on Salt Creek at the foot of Washington Street. The building was 100 feet long, 50 feet wide and 30 feet high, with double walls 18 inches thick filled with sawdust. The ice was packed in tiers, each layer covered with wood shavings.Fifty to sixty men were required to fill the ice house. When the ice reached the thickness of twelve to eighteen inches, a field was marked out, cut in blocks 24 inches square and floated on rafts through channels to the water box. Then the ice was hauled up a chute by means of a jack attached to a long rope through a series of pulleys. Two teams of horses furnished the power. Several thousand tons of ice was stored each winter for delivery the following summer at fifty cents a hundred pounds. Five wagons made daily trips supplying ice to markets and homes in LaGrange, Western Springs, Hinsdale and South Elmhurst. In 1885, the increasing demands for ice resulted in construction of an additional ice house and two more wagons to serve the area.When artificial ice replaced natural ice, the Ruchty Brothers sold their business in 1910 to the West Suburban Ice Company. A few timbers lining the bank of Salt Creek are all that remains of the ice house. This historic marker is a gift from the Fullersburg Historic Foundation.

Faith Fellowship Church

Faith Fellowship Church is one of the five historic structures within the Fullersburg Historic District. Recalling the old country churches of yesteryear, the welcoming steeple and arched stained glass windows invite visitors to experience this 1880's white frame church. The church was built by local farmers of rural times who arrived here from Hanover, Germany to make a life for themselves and their families in the Fullersburg area of Illinois.

Originally, the Church was a Low German (Plattdeutsch) speaking Free Church with services conducted in German until 1920. Today, the church is occupied by the congregation of Faith Fellowship Church.The natural beauty and country atmosphere of the historic church and grounds offer a respite from congestion and present-day hectic lifestyles in a bucolic setting. Located at the bend in Salt Creek just west of the Graue Mill Dam, the Victorian charm and quaint interior of the Faith Fellowship Church draws visitorsand members from all walks of life, making the Church a popular place for weddings as well as Sunday services.A cemetery located on a scenic wooded hill behind the church dates back to 1877. Citizens of Fullersburg buried here include members of the Graue Family.For more information on Faith Fellowship Church, go to: www.churchfaithfellowship.org

Frederick Graue House

The Frederick Graue House was built by Frederick Graue in 1859 in the Italianate architectural style and pre-dates the Civil War. Graue and his family resided here during the years he operated the Graue Mill. The Graue House is located just a short walking distance south of the Graue Mill. The construction of this fine residence reflects the success of Graue's gristmill operation and the prosperity of the Fullersburg community at the time.

The Graue House and land were purchased by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County in 1989. Preservationists urged the acquisition and restoration of the Graue House for its importance to the Mill and to the historic past of Old Fullersburg.

In today's urban environment, it is unusual for both the Graue House and the Graue Mill to have survived in their original locations for more than 150 years.

The Graue House has been restored and is now open to the public. The restoration was funded by a million-dollar state grant and was completed in 2002. Funds were used to restore the exterior of the Graue House to its original historic appearance and to renovate the interior for adaptive reuse.

Today, the first floor of the Graue House is a Visitors' Center and can be rented for meetings, receptions and other special events. The first floor also provides gallery space for the display of special exhibits and art shows. The second floor houses the archival collections of Old Fullersburg and the administrative offices of the DuPage Graue Mill Corporation.

For more information about the Frederick Graue House, go to: www.grauemill.org

Graue Mill and Museum

Located only minutes away from the business center in Oak Brook, Illinois, Graue Mill and Museum provides a rare glimpse into the past. Enjoy the sounds of rushing water over the Graue Mill Dam, the rhythmic creaking of a past-century waterwheel and a walk through the wooded landscape that presents a perfect setting for photographers and artists.

Begin your visit by watching a white-aproned miller demonstrate the basic milling process using Fred Graue's original 150-year-old buhrstones. The quality of Graue Mill stoneground cornmeal is known far and wide and visitors return again and again to replenish their supply.


The four-story Graue Mill houses a collection of artifacts from the period l850-l890. They are displayed in room settings depicting life in early Fullersburg. Volunteers dressed in period clothing demonstrate the arts of spinning and weaving. The cellar houses the giant wooden gear system that operates the buhrstones. A new exhibit about the Underground Railroad was added a few years ago.

A gift shop offers an array of items, including books, children's toys and games and many handcrafted products produced by volunteers.

Special events are held on weekends, including craft demonstrations, art exhibits, living history presentations, antique shows, encampments and visual and performing arts.

For more information, go to www.grauemill.org

York Tavern

The York Tavern, originally known as "The Farmer's Home," was one of Ben Fuller's several business enterprises in Old Fullersburg. Fuller built the historic structure in 1843 on a parcel of land he owned west of York Road and north of Salt Creek. Fuller used heavy timbers to frame The Farmer's Home. The spaces between the logs were filled with unfired bricks to insulate, strengthen and fireproof the structure. This "fackwerk" style of construction was a traditional European building style dating back centuries to medieval times. But it required the felling of large trees and processing them manually into hand-hewn logs, a tedious and labor intensive process.

Fuller quickly abandoned this cumbersome and time-consuming "fackwerk" construction style when he built his 'balloon frame" house south of the creek in the same year. The Ben Fuller Farmhouse is a classic example of this new architectural technique invented in Chicago to save on lumber and labor costs as the city's population grew. (See the link to the Ben Fuller Farmhouse for more information).The Farmer's Home was first licensed by DuPage County in 1846 and served as the community grocery store, tavern and popular gathering destination for neighbors looking to socialize and catch up on the news. The York Tavern is believed to be the oldest continuously operating privately owned eating and drinking establishment in DuPage County to this day.In 2006, The York Tavern was historically rehabilitated and a required new kitchen was added. During the course of restoration, an example of half-timbered beams was preserved behind a framed glass exhibit in the restaurant. This "fachwerk" display is a focal point of The York Tavern today, recalling the days when Ben Fuller set up shop here in the mid-1840's.The York Tavern is located at 3702 York Road, Oak Brook, Illinois.Telephone: (630) 323-5090

Fullersburg Cemetery

The Fullersburg Cemetery is the final resting place of many of the founders of Fullersburg and Hinsdale. Many of the area’s WWI and Civil War soldiers are buried there along with a Confederate soldier in an unmarked grave. A walk through the cemetery takes one back to the early days of settlement of the area. The large group of Fuller family graves includes that of Jacob Fuller and his wife Candace, whose stone marks the oldest grave. Their son, Ben, who donated the land for the cemetery in 1851, lays nearby, along with Morell Fuller, a drummer in the Civil War. John Coe, a conductor on the Underground Railroad, and his son Samuel, another Civil War veteran, are buried there. Other names that evoke the past are Van Velzer, Fox, Franke, Ruchty, Walker, and Wegener. Through the efforts of the Fuller family and the Fullersburg Historic Foundation the cemetery is opened to the public on Memorial Day each year. The cemetery is located at the North end of Garfield Street, between Fuller Road and Maumell Street in Hinsdale.

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