Homeowners, Tony and Nicki Burke invited the Geneva History Museum and previous owners to tour their home at 1101 South Batavia Avenue and share stories in celebration of the home’s 130th birthday. The story of the Davis House begins on October 3, 1891 when W.J. Davis purchased a ten-acre parcel of land from Silas W. Curtis. Willam Job and Ida Bonnell Davis began the building of a “fine house” (as described in The Geneva Republican Newspaper).
The Davis family came to Geneva from Wisconsin, where William made a career in the hardware and farming business before turning his attention to the dairy industry. He made is mark with several patents from dairy machinery.
Every family has their story and William and Ida experienced a scandalous one. William left for a rather extended business trip. Ida filed for divorce based on the fact that her husband had not been home in seven years. William showed up late to the divorce hearing and by that time the judge had awarded Ida the house. She lived there the rest of her life until 1944. Since the Davis family, six other families have called the Davis house home.
The Davis House is a rare example of American Queen Anne architecture in Geneva. The intricate wrap-around porch has been re-built to replicate the original design, including the porte-cochere, which is intended for a passenger to step onto the porch from a horse and buggy under a protective canopy. The center pieces on the ceilings of the front rooms are original and according to paperwork “cost $2 a piece.” There are seventeen original stained glass windows and only one fireplace, since the home was heated. The first floor powder room has the original sink and wainscoting.
Previous owner, Marsha Reinecke, reflected on hearing stories about what a great house this was to raise children and entertain with the 900-square foot screened back porch. “It is an epic house for parties and kids,” said Reinecke, who lived in the house for twelve years with her husband and daughter.
Chuck & Lori Hackley reminisced about their nine years of living in the house. Chuck found his son’s signature dated May 1, 1981 under the basement staircase.
The Burke’s said they gave permission to a man with a metal detector to walk the property. They have a bin full of objects that were found on the grounds including a key, an army toy, segments of a hair or garment adornment, and metal pots that the Burkes now use on their back porch.
The home received a bronze plaque award from the Geneva History Museum (Geneva Historical Society) in 2007 to honor its history. Local landmark designation was awarded in 2008 and the home is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historical Places.
The Geneva History Museum is a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve and share Geneva’s evolving story while inspiring and engaging the community. The museum is located at 113 South Third Street and is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays offering free admission. For more information visit GenevaHistoryMuseum.org or call 630-232-4951.