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About the Museum

History  | Facilities | Organization and Staff | Membership Information

History of the Inn and Museum

Garfield Farm and Tavern, listed in the National Register of Historic Sites, is a 281-acre farmstead and former 1840s teamster inn 40 miles west of Chicago and 5 miles west of Geneva, Illinois. When Timothy Garfield and his family built the brick inn on the family farm in 1846, it became a center for community activity. It was an inn for hundreds of teamsters and travelers, a ballroom for jubilant 4th of July Dances, a meeting place, and a place to drop in for good company and a mug of hard cider.

The coming of the railroads ended the inn-keeping basis for the Garfields, and they continued to till the Kane County soil. The last Garfield family owner, Elva Ruth Garfield, founded the museum in 1977 to teach about America's prairie farm heritage.

The museum brings together the farming experiences of the past 150 years with an appreciation of the natural environment that the Garfields found when they came to Illinois.

Facilities at Garfield Farm

Three original 1840's buildings, the 1842 hay and grain barn, the 1849 horse barn and the 1846 inn survive with 3 later day barns (1860 - 1906) on site. Several small sheds for storage and animal housing have been constructed or brought on site.

The organizations' headquarters are located in the once neighboring 1840's Atwell Burr House moved on site in 1991 as support facility.

The farm, listed on the National Register of Historic Sites, consists of 281 acres with 45 acres in wetlands, savanna and prairie.

The 20 Mill Creek Prairie and Sedge Meadow was never plowed though grazed and cut for prairie hay. It is described in 1840 family records as 80 rods west of the house constantly flowing with water. Ditching tile was later laid through it reducing visible surface water except in the creek channel. It is part of the upper Mill Creek watershed the drains in to the Fox River. In 1990, the museum began raising $180,000 for its acquisition and perpetual care. At $6000 an acre, 11 acres remain to be secured. Over 1000 households from 20 states have contributed to this fund.

Membership Information

Garfield Farm Museum has come as far as it has because of the individuals who recognize the importance of this educational effort. By becoming members, the membership dollars are applied directly to the day to day costs of operations. The membership dues help fund 15 percent of the annual budget. Members receive the Campton Fairfield Crier and the Prairie Messenger, discounted rates to special events, free tours of the museum and prairie walks. Membership donations are: Individual Membership ($20); Family Membership ($30); Patron Membership ($75); Commercial Patron ($100); Life Membership ($1,000).

Donations are also need for the repair and restoration of the 1842 barn which was struck with lightning in August of 2005, burning out the south peak of the roof. Membership donations and other contributions should be sent to: Garfield Farm Museum, PO Box 403, LaFox, IL 60147.

Museum Organization and Staff

Campton Historic Agricultural Lands, Inc. a 501(c)3 non profit land preservation organization that preserves the agricultural, historic, and or
natural resources of its properties which include the Timothy Garfield Farm, the Edward Garfield\Mongerson Brothers Farm, and the Garfield Harley
Ephemeral Pond and Woods. 

Garfield Heritage Society, Inc., is responsible for the historic interpretation of Garfield Farm Museum. Current GHS board members are Sue Morton Lloyd, President (St.Charles, IL); Glenn Staron, Vice President (Chicago, IL); Marty Germann, Treasurer (Bristol,IL); Donna Neiler, Secretary, (LaFox, IL); Sue Jacobson (Sugar Grove, IL), Christa Thurman Sala (Geneva, IL).

Jerome M. Johnson is a founding board member and has been Executive Director since 1981. He is a lifelong resident of Campton township, Kane County, and a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia with a BS and an MA in Biology. He says "conservation of our resources for future generations requires protecting our agricultural resources, our environmental blessings, and the historic fabric of our nation: these are inseparable if future generations are to enjoy what we have been given".

William Wolcott is the Museum Operations Director. He joined the museum staff in 2008 and has a B.A. in History from Benedictine University. His experience includes museum curation and facilities management.

John Engstrom is the natural area manager and is experienced in ecological restoration. His studies include horticulture at Kishwaukee College.

David Bauer is a Project Specialist.  He has a degree in electrical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology and has experience as a computer hardware engineer. 

Joseph Coleman is the Assistant Site Manager. He graduated from North Central College and learned blacksmithing at Naper Settlement.

Internships are available at the museum.

Over 300 volunteers assist in the operation of the museum in any given year. The museum has benefited from over 45 Eagle Scout projects. A wide range of volunteer opportunities exist.