10 Interesting Facts About St. Charles, IL
…and why we love working here
StudioStyle.com is proud to have our office and manufacturing facility located in St. Charles, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. Just down the street from the Fox River, our community is filled with beautiful parks, scenic river views, and a rich, interesting history.
We love it here so much, we'd like to share some interesting things we've learned about our city.
Welcome to St. Charles, Illinois - The Pride of the Fox
- Originally named Charleston, it was later discovered that another Illinois city had the same name. S.S. Jones, a local lawyer, suggested it be renamed Saint Charles in 1839.
- For over 40 years, St. Charles was the Pickle Capital of the World! While no pickles were ever known to be manufactured in town, PPI (Pickle Packers International) was a promotional marketing agency that laid its roots in St. Charles in the early 1960's. They promoted the benefits of pickles, producing pickle phones, purses, greeting cards, and many more pickle branded items from the Pickle Packers International office on East Main Street in downtown. Although PPI moved to Washington, DC in 2004, the legacy remains.
- St. Charles is the site of the Richards Riot of 1849. Students of the Franklin Medical School, the first medical school in Illinois, stole a body from a graveyard to dissect in class. The family of the deceased, along with somewhere between 40-200 residents from nearby Sycamore, journeyed to the home of the school's director and started a riot that consequently killed two people.
- St. Charles was the home of Civil War General John Farnsworth. General Farnsworth was the founder of the Republican Party, attorney, congressman, and personal friend of Abraham Lincoln and was his advisor during the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. In 1860, the Farnsworth family built a mansion in by the Fox River in St. Charles. The home later became the Mount St. Mary Academy and later the Valley Lutheran High School before being demolished in 1993. The St. Charles-based Camp Kane Heritage Foundation is raising funds to reconstruct the exterior facade of the Farnsworth Mansion.
- Did you know Al Capone used St. Charles as a hideaway? Neither did we. But it's rumored that he frequented a speakeasy and held bootleg parties at an establishment along Route 25.
- What started as a small community festival in 1985, Scarecrow Fest is an annual three-day event attracting more than 100,000 visitors. Guests are entertained with an enormous display of hand-crafted scarecrows, and even have the opportunity to make their own scarecrow. It's an event that consumes downtown St. Charles every Columbus Day weekend, but we love the passion, talent, and vibrancy that community members bring to the fest.
- Established in 1881, the Cable Piano Company laid claim as the world's largest manufacturer of pianos and organs. In 1901 Cable built a factory along the Fox River in St. Charles. Shortly after the stock market crash, the factory began lay-offs and eventually closed its doors in 1938, at which time it was sold to Howell Furniture Company. Howell remained in St. Charles for nearly 50 years before it too closed its doors in 1980. The building was converted into a shopping center called Piano Factory Mall. The original site of the piano factory has been razed for condominiums and shopping.
- The Arcada (Spanish for "arcade") is a historic 1926 Venetian-Spanish theme theatre inspired by the travels of St. Charles native Lester J. Norris. Norris traveled to Florida and studied Spanish-influenced architecture and brought his vision back to St. Charles to build this theatre. With seating for 1,000, the Arcada held many sold-out shows, drawing theatre-goers from Chicago and even New York. Today the Arcada holds 200+ movie showings and concerts each year, making it the no. 1 live music venue in the Midwest.
- What was once the location of a town dump, the historic Hotel Baker opened in 1928, and was funded by its namesake, Edward J. Baker. The grand opening of the hotel featured a dinner for 300 guests, rooms cost just $2.50 per night, and each room was decorated in its own unique style. When Baker passed away in 1959, he left his estate—including the hotel—to his niece, Dellora Norris, who ran the hotel until 1970. By that time, the hotel had lost its appeal and was converted into an assisted living facility. Through a few sales in the 90s and early 2000s, Hotel Baker has regained its stature in the community. It is now listed on the National Record of Historic Places and was awarded the Wedding Wire Couple's Choice Award in 2018.
- The city of St. Charles is the Water Garden Capital of the World. Home to Aquascape, Inc., America's leader in the water features industry, Aquascape is responsible for several public water garden installations within the city.
The St. Charles Municipal Building, built in 1940 in an Art Deco-Moderne style, is a Registered Historic Place.
Photo courtesy of David Wilson (Flickr)
Built in 1926 by local philanthropist Lester J. Norris, the Arcada Theatre is the no. 1 live music venue in the Midwest.
Photo courtesy of Paul Sableman (Flickr)
The beautiful Fox River. Flowing from southeastern Wisconsin to Ottawa, IL, this 202-mile-long river runs right through downtown St. Charles. The historic Hotel Baker stands on the water's edge.
Photo courtesy of The Kombrink Lobrillo Team (Flickr)
Whether it's concerts, festivals, or parades, St. Charles earns its reputation as the "Pride of the Fox" by offering a diverse cultural environment for its residents and the surrounding communities.
Photo courtesy of Earl Shumaker (Flickr)
We ❤ working with local event planners and business owners.
Is your business, event, or organization located in St. Charles or within the Fox River Valley? While we work with people all over the world (see where they're from and what they've said about us), we love getting to know those who live, work, and play close to us. We've worked with customers from Batavia, Geneva, Elgin, Addison, Schaumburg, Chicago, and about a hundred other communites throughout Illinois.
Planning a 5k in Geneva? Or perhaps a wedding in South Elgin. Maybe you're hosting an industry trade show at Pheasant Run. Or you sell your photos at farmer's markets and art fairs through the Fox Valley. Wherever your event, whatever your need, we are your local source for event giveaways and branded products like photo folders, frames, and cards.
And we'd love to work with you.
Let's get started
or call us at (800) 346-3063