Sycamore rich with history

By Junae Bennett

SYCAMORE | Sycamore is one of the oldest cities in the area, established in 1835.

Carlos Lattin built the 1st home in Sycamore in 1835, said Mayor Ken Mundy.

Farmers settled the area and opened several stores after Eli Barnes built the 1st commercial building in Sycamore in 1839, Mundy said.

“Agriculture is a major building block of Sycamore,” said Mundy. “We were founded on agriculture.”

Mundy said although State Street and Main Street became a busy intersection of Indians, settlers, wagons, horses, and pioneers traveling through the area, there was no way for business residents to distribute goods to neighboring counties.

“$85,000 was raised to build a railroad to Cortland to get the goods to the markets,” Mundy said. “The railroad saved the community.”

Another part of the city’s history is the DeKalb County Court House, 133 W. State St. Mundy calls the court house the ‘crown jewel’ of Sycamore. Mundy said the original wooden court house was replaced by the current stone court house in 1904.

First Ward Alderman Alan Bauer said he likes to live in Sycamore for several different reasons.

“I enjoy the pumpkin festival and the fall colors and I enjoy having so many people in town,” Bauer said. “New people and good people coming to town, it’s nice to get to know new people and still retain the small town feel.”

Sycamore is also widely known for their annual Pumpkin Fest. Mundy said the fest was started by Wally Thurowin in 1962. Thurow wanted to create activities for younger residents to keep them out of trouble. He created Sycamore’s Mr. Pumpkin, the inspiration for Pumpkin Fest. Thurowin first decorated his lawn which was recognized by the Sycamore Lions Club. This practice evolved into the current pumpkin carving and decorating contest on the court house lawn.

Additionally, Mundy said U.S. News & World Report magazine recently recognized Sycamore as one of the top ten places to retire. Mundy said Sycamore is a great place for families and retirees and is affordable.

“Sycamore is a good place to raise family, a good place to work and has good community values,” said Lt. Shaun Penn of the Sycamore Fire Department.

Mundy said he loves his home town.

“I’m very proud of everything here,” Mundy said.