When Batavia MainStreet introduced 10 S. Shumway to Mike Kluber, president of Kluber Architects + Engineers, he was a bit apprehensive. It was 2006, just a few years before the Great Recession, and downtown Batavia was already suffering. Batavia MainStreet was aware of the firm’s growth plans, and knowing Kluber’s expertise in building renovation, felt that they were the right owners to bring it back to life and rejuvenate the Foundry District.
Kluber knew that renovating the distressed property would be a tremendous undertaking. Between its structural instability and its state of neglect, it would be a project that involved a large amount of financial and resource investment. However, it would prove to be one of the City’s most successful developments in its history.
When Was 10 S. Shumway Built?
The property located at 10 S. Shumway in Batavia was built in 1880. At the time, the City desperately needed a central area for residents to gather and hold events. For that reason, a group of citizens invested $100 each to fund a two-story Opera House at the site.
The building was a wood structure with a limestone basement and featured a seating capacity of 525. Upon opening in the fall, it would host countless historical performances. John Geiss, who later served as the Mayor of Batavia in 1925, even played in the orchestra for the first dance.
What Happened After the Opera House Opened?
After several years, the Opera House closed and was used as a printing office. However, it wasn’t much longer until the Opera House reopened in 1912 with a redecorated interior, additional seating, and a revamped orchestra. The building was then officially After its reopening, silent movies were played at the Batavia Opera House and it saw a dramatic increase in attendance. There were also live acts played in between films, with admission costing anywhere between 15 and 35 cents. However, the theater would close its doors for the last time in 1957, after which many businesses utilized it as office space.
In 1940, Joe Burke, who leased the building at the time, changed the name of the opera house to “Capitol Theater.” It was then renamed to “Batavia Theater” in 1948.
The Music Hall opened in the fall of 1880 with a seating capacity of 575.
Music Hall Hosts Countless Performances
The Music Hall hosted everything from road shows to local talent. It even served as a roller rink!
Music Hall Closes and Building Used as Job Printing Office
This is Timeline description, you can change me anytime click here
Building Reopens as an Opera House
Aptly named “The Batavia Opera House,” the building went back to being used for its intended purpose: entertainment for the local community.
Live Acts Performed Between Motion Picture Shows
The Marion Woods Company presented “An American Gentleman.”
Raymond Robbins, U.S. Senate Candidate, Speaks to 300 People
Robbins was part of the Progressive Party and served as Chairman of the State Central Committee.
New Programs Every Night
The Batavia Opera House featured a new program every night, with vaudeville on the weekends. By 1918, the Opera House no longer advertised vaudeville.
Joe Burke Leases Building for Movie Theater
Burke also renamed the building “The Vanity Theater” in 1924.
Movie Theater is Renamed “Capitol Theater”
Movies shown at the time included “My Sister, Eileen” and “This Above All.”
William T. and Alex Valos Purchase Theater
The duo operated the theater for several years, naming it “The Batavia Theater.”
Theater Closes for the Last Time
After naming it “The Batavia Theater” about ten years prior, the facility closed its doors. This was the last time the building was used as a theater.
Building is Home to Several Small Businesses
Between its closure in 1957 and the early 2000’s, the property saw many businesses come and go. Eventually, the building became vacant.
A State of Disrepair
After the Batavia Theater closed in the 50’s and the building was cycled through many owners and tenants, it began to show its age. The building’s façade was falling apart, the interior decayed, and it lacked structural stability and integrity. However, this was sadly the norm for the Foundry District in 2006. The area had become an eyesore for the City, despite its unique and well-established history.
Why Kluber Invested in the Building
In 2006, Mike Kluber was an active member of both Batavia MainStreet and the community. He was aware of the City’s plans to revitalize Downtown Batavia, and because they coincided with his firm’s growth and need for more office space, he decided to take the plunge.
Revitalizing the building didn’t just mean bringing it up to code and moving employees in. Kluber, as a resident of the City and a small business owner, firmly believes that small and medium-sized businesses such as his are stakeholders in the community and owe it to residents to invest in it.
“When your downtown districts are in need, community leaders need to step up. Small and medium sized businesses should be motivated to revitalize and support the communities they serve.”
-Mike Kluber, President of Kluber Architects + Engineers
The City of Batavia provided $319,000 in TIF funding, with the entirety of the project costing over $1.4 million. The significant personal investment from Kluber was a vote of confidence in the City, and served as his commitment to improve the future of Batavia.
The Renovation and the Result
Although Kluber considered many options for the building’s renovation (including a five-story commercial building), he ultimately decided on a refinished two-story design. This proved to be the best choice given the impending recession, which in hindsight could have bankrupted our firm had we chose the more elaborate five-story plan.
Kluber’s investment in 10 S. Shumway inspired other business owners to invest in Downtown Batavia as well. An area of town that was previously avoided by most residents is now a welcome and inviting environment for pedestrians, bicyclists, weekend shoppers, entrepreneurs, and more.
Building Features of 10 S. Shumway
The building’s new design incorporates modernization while still respecting the history of the property.
Some of those building features include:
- High performance metal clad wood windows throughout the building
- Open volume space interior with exposed roof trusses
- A rear mezzanine
- Natural light utilized throughout the space with exterior windows and skylights
- New HVAC equipment with over 90% efficiency
- Water-saving plumbing fixtures and high efficiency water heater
- High efficiency LED lighting with automatic lighting control
- Four private use restrooms, two with showers
The Future of 10 S. Shumway
Kluber Architects + Engineers is moving to the second phase of development for 10 S. Shumway, which is to determine the next best use for the property.
“We’re now actively looking for the next owner or tenant with the right vision for 10 S. Shumway. Phase 1 was to stabilize the downtown district and remove the blight. Downtown Batavia is now ready for the next chapter in its development. Part of that is finding the best next use of the building that matches both its rich history and Batavia’s plans for downtown revitalization.”
-Mike Kluber, President of Kluber Architects + Engineers
Kluber Architects + Engineers hired a consultant to conduct a study on the future of 10 S. Shumway. Their process involved soliciting community input via focus groups, inventorying current downtown Shumway quadrant business types, studying pre-pandemic and current trip habits of focus group participants, and more. Feedback from the study will be used to determine the next best use for 10 S. Shumway.
The focus groups came at an opportune time. As of Spring 2021, residents of Batavia have become increasingly vocal about their desires for the future of their downtown. In the “Our Batavia: Our Government” Facebook group, locals have expressed desires for a new vision for Shumway Ave. From breweries to outdoor recreation, the possibilities are endless.
Interested in Being Involved in the Next Phase of the Building?
BEI Properties has been retained as the commercial property manager for the building. As such, any inquiries related to the sale or lease of the building should be directed to:
Robinson. (1999, November 2). Former Theater Recalls Memories. Kane County Chronicle, Unknown.
The Importance of Transformation. (2018). Destination Batavia.