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Batavia Art Deco Gem to Find Second Life as a School

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[photo via G LeTourneau, Creative Commons]

A new private high school set to open in a reused historic Batavia factory next year hands preservationists a nice late-year victory. The announcement in November that Harbridge College Prep Academy will become the new tenant of the Campana Factory gives this lesser-known modernist gem on the Fox River a new lease on life.

Built in 1937, the steel-frame Bauhaus and Art Moderne-style factory by Frank D. Chase, architect of the 100 West Monroe building now being turned into a Hyatt Hotel, was added to the National Register of Historic Places, in part for its innovative use of natural lighting. Long, slender row of glass blocks illuminate the floor of this streamlined suburban factory where the namesake hand lotion, as well as cosmetics such as Solitair Lipstick, Magic Touch Cream Make Up, Anjou Cologne and even caramel candy were made. A 100-foot tower, adorned with the stylish Campana name, breaks up the horizontal factory space and holds a 50,000-gallon water tower. Initially called Italian balm, the name of the flagship product was changed to Campana after Italy became an enemy in WWII.

After production shut down in 1955, the factory was purchased by local Richard J. Ward, who wanted to install a business incubator in the 12.5-acre site. Plans to turn the structure into storefronts were floated, and companies such as Ashland Flooring tried to work out of the building, but the new school plan may provide a more permanent use for the structure.

·College prep school in Batavia won't focus on testing [Daily Herald]
·Previous Preservation Watch coverage [Curbed]