William Bertram “Bill” Greene and his wife Jane embraced the family legacy of prosperity and generosity by donating the 10-acre Greene Family Farmstead at the corner of Hobson and Greene Roads through
the Aurora Foundation to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. In 1998, the FPDDC committed to preserve the barn and house. Stabilization of the barn occurred in 2012 at a cost of $1.1M. Though the barn is not open to the public, further commitment to maintenance and rehabilitation was approved in 2016.
Bill’s grandfather, William Briggs Greene, arrived in 1841 from Wallingford, Vermont; one of the first settlers in the new county of DuPage. In 1843 he bought 200-acres from Thankful Goodrich for $1,000. He built a home, forever affectionately known as Oak Cottage, under the towering bur oaks on the rise above the East Branch of the DuPage River.
Local timber and quarried limestone became the largest barn in DuPage County with 14,000 square feet of shelter for animals and crops. The dairy farm prospered. Corn, oats, alfalfa hay, and wheat grew readily in the glacial black soil of Illinois. Apple and pear orchards were planted nearby. Employment was steady. Housework never ending. Celebrations frequent.
The Greene’s valued education, innovation and hard work. William Briggs Greene and his wife Harriet Elizabeth Meeker raised five children. The next generation lead by William Spencer Greene raised six children, one of whom was W.B. “Bill” Greene, born in Oak Cottage in 1886.
His was the last generation to farm. On Saturday, August 10, 1963, the Greene Farms Dispersal auction sold the dairy equipment and 180 Holstein cattle. In 1971, Bill’s sister Grace was granted life tenancy per the agreement with the forest preserve district.
Today with passion, planning, and partnerships the 173-year old Greene Barn could become open to the public. Bill Greene’s writings (he wrote 3 books!) and contracts show that he hoped the farmstead and its heritage might continue to enrich the lives of people within our community. Please take time to walk the grounds and feel the potential of the Greene Farmstead within the verdant Greene Valley Forest Preserve.
In 1948 industrialist W.B. Greene began his service of 13 years as the first president of the Aurora Foundation today known as the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley. The 21st-century partnership with the Rooted Acoustic Barn Raising provides a nimble presence in local philanthropy while working towards the public use of the Greene Barn.