Stolp Island Historic District

About the District

Stolp Island is located in the Fox River, at a site where the river drops steeply. This drop is what gave the McCarty Brothers, Joseph Stolp, and Zaphna Lake the waterpower source they desired for their milling businesses. The Fox River, although an excellent power source and motivator for industrial development, had a disruptive influence on commercial and residential development causing rivalry between the growing settlements on the east and west banks. It was because of these rivalries that Stolp Island became the neutral territory for Aurora's public buildings and other private organizations.

The National Register Historic District includes good examples of the works of nationally known architects, and unique architectural styles. Due to its central location in the growing community, Stolp Island became a functional transportation link as well as an emotional link between Aurora's east and west sides. W Frederick Stolp bought this island for $12.72 in 1848. He later deeded the island to his nephew, Joseph Stolp, who built a woolen mill.
A map of the Stolp Island Historic District.
If you think of Stolp Island as an outdoor museum of architecture, one of the finest exhibits is the terra cotta. Essentially a fired clay product, terra cotta was often used with glazes of various colors and textures. It was a versatile and inexpensive building material that was used to form elaborate details, or to simulate expensive stone such as granite and limestone. Buildings clad with architectural terra cotta were originally called "china front" buildings. In America, this building material was first used in Chicago in 1895. Terra cotta's primary appeal was its ability to adapt to the variety of elaborate revival architectural styles in vogue at the time.


  • Historic Tour Stop
    • Begin: Galena Boulevard
    • End: Galena Boulevard/Paramount Arts Centre
  • National Register Historic District 1986
  • PACE Route 526 - West Plaza