The Sandwich Public Library District (S.P.L.D.) opened its new 17,700 square foot library in September, as I mentioned in a photo caption for “Bill Coffee Elected Reaching Across Illinois Library System Board President.” The mailing address of the new Sandwich Public Library is 925 South Main Street, Sandwich, Illinois 60548.
The S.P.L.D. was able to build and equip a new facility because (a) the Library Board was able to save money over a period of several years, (b) a referendum passed on November 6, 2012 that authorized the sale of $3,400,000 in general obligation bonds, and (c) the S.P.L.D. received a $1,595,510 Illinois Construction Grant.
Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White presented a ceremonial check (similar to the giant checks one sees lottery winners pose with for the press) on Monday, January 13, 2014. The process of building the new library began some time ago with the S.P.L.D.’s acquisition of five acres of land on South Main Street.
Katrina J.E. Milton covered the opening ceremony of the new library on Friday, September 19, 2014 for Shaw Media’s Valley Life, a weekly newspaper that serves the DeKalb County communities of Sandwich, Somonauk, and Plano. She reported, “The chimes that the library purchased in the early 1990s were donated to the Sandwich Historical Society. Over the summer, Sandwich municipal employees helped the historical society remove the chimes from the old library building. That building closed on Aug. 23.”
It took library staff four days to prepare the collection to move to its new location. Two weeks were needed to unpack, install, and ready the library before its grand opening.
Jeff Engelhardt placed the construction of the new library in context in Shaw Media’s Valley Life (“Library upgrades sweeping DeKalb County”). “Somonauk built a new 15,000 square-foot library in August 2009 with the backing of increased tax support. Sycamore Public Library completed a $731,000 renovation in October, and DeKalb’s library is looking to local fundraising to help pay for an expansion.”
“The new library will be designed to operate without additional staff & with maximum energy efficiency,” the S.P.L.D. stated. Before it opened, the S.P.L.D. further stated the new library will provide ample parking; 24/7 Drive-up Book/AV Return Drop & Holds Pick-up; a larger selection of books, DVDs, and audio cassettes and discs; more popular books for all ages; more computers for individual use & instruction with Wi-Fi and fiber optic technology; Youth computer lab area; a refreshment area for coffee, soda, water; additional study areas, seating, and work tables; a large meeting room with access for community groups; a children’s story & program room; two study rooms; comfortable seating areas for individual and/or group study; quiet reading areas with lounge chairs; and increased children, teen, and adult programs.
Sandwich is famous for hosting the DeKalb County Fair, better known as the Sandwich Fair. The Sandwich Fair Association, Inc. held the 127th Sandwich Fair from the 3rd to the 7th of September, 2014.
Established in 1888, the Sandwich Fair is the oldest continuous fair in Illinois. It is more than a livestock show, as it includes exhibits and commercial displays, harness races, carnival rides, and food stands. While I personally have not attended the Sandwich Fair, a friend told me several years ago that it was a lot of fun.
The Sandwich Fair suffered during World War I, because a lack of manpower meant the merry-go-round could not be moved to the fairgrounds. Yet, in 1915, the first automated popcorn machine was demonstrated at the Sandwich Fair.
In the 1980s, amusement park rides were added. J. Dennis Hastert, U.S. Representative for the 14th Congressional District (1987-2007) and Speaker of the House of Representatives (1997-2007), submitted Sandwich Fair materials to The American Folklife Center of The Library of Congress.
DeKalb County, which is sixty miles west of Chicago, has a population of 116,314 people. Residents of DeKalb County receive television and radio signals from Rockford as well as Chicago.
DeKalb, the largest town in DeKalb County with a population of just under 44,000, is best known as the place where barbed wire was invented. It started out as a farm market town, evolved into a small industrial city in the 1870s, and further evolved into a college town at the end of the 19th Century.
The town and county were named in honor of Major General Johann von Robais (1721-1780), Baron de Kalb, a hero of the American War of Independence. The second-largest town in DeKalb County is Sycamore, the county seat, with a population of just over 17,500 (as of the 2010 Census).
Sycamore is the third-largest town in DeKalb County with a population of 7,421 (as of the 2010 Census). Genoa is the fourth-largest town with a population of just under 5,200 and Cortland is the fifth-largest with a population of 4,270.
Parts of Sandwich now spill over into LaSalle County to the south and Kendall County to the southeast. Originally Sandwich was called Newark Station.
There was no village, only farmland, until a group of farmers led by William Patten, Washington Walker, and Lindsay Carr prevailed upon the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad to build a train station in what is now Sandwich in 1852, after first convincing the CB&Q to make the place a flag stop. The nearest town was Newark, hence the name.
This village in Kendall County, named after Newark, New Jersey, had a population of 887 as of the 2010 Census. Almon Gage, who provided land for the train station, offered land to anyone who would build upon it, and the first people to take him up on this offer were A.R. Patten, James Clark, and Myrlin Carpenter.
Clark built the first house. He called his rambling, one-story residence Donegana House.
In 1855, State Senator August Adams built an agricultural machinery factory in the burgeoning village. J.H. Carr opened the first store in town. Robert Patten and G.W. Culver opened the first lumberyard.
 DeKalb was a farm town that became a small-scale industrial center in the 1870s when two men – Joseph Glidden (1813-1906) and Jacob Haish (1826-1926) – separately invented barbed wire and became competitive manufacturers in the town. Subsequently, DeKalb became a college town when the town’s then-three barbed wire manufacturers (Glidden, Haish, and Glidden’s partner in the Barb Fence Company Isaac L. Ellwood) decided to lure a state commission tasked with establishing a normal school (a college for teachers) in Northern Illinois to DeKalb. Northern Illinois State Normal School, which evolved into Northern Illinois University (N.I.U.), opened in 1899. They are profiled in the documentary Barbed Wire Pioneers (1998), by Jeffrey Chown, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in NIU’s Department of Communication. The history of barbed wire is also vividly illustrated at the Visitor Center of the Ellwood House Museum at 501 North First Street in DeKalb. Ellwood’s American Steel & Wire became a subsidiary of the U. S. Steel Corporation in 1901, and DeKalb’s wire mills closed in 1938 when production moved to Joliet and Waukegan. DeKalb has two Art Deco-style buildings on the National Register of Historic Places: Haish Memorial Library, built in 1930, and the Egyptian Theater, built in 1929. The Egyptian Theater is a fully-restored Egyptian Art Deco-style cinema where U.S. Senator (and future President) John F. Kennedy spoke in 1959. DeKalb AgResearch Corporation first began to sell hybrid corn in 1935. This business evolved in to DeKalb Genetics Corporation, which was acquired by Monsanto in two stages in 1996-98. Around the turn of the century, DeKalb became an exurb of Chicago.
 A flag stop literally means if someone there waved a flag, the engineer would stop the train.
 The most common version of the story is that Lord Sandwich regularly ordered his servants to bring him slices of meat between two slices of bread rather than leave the gambling table to eat. The British also called Hawaii the Sandwich Isles in his honor.