Mr. Tanner Turns 200

William Tanner, Aurora

See what you started, Mr. Tanner.  For your birthday we have a table of birthday treats that ranges from the predictable (let’s say Black Forest cake, a German tradition, your tradition) to African-American sweet potato pie, Italian tiramisu and the Irish favorite, bread pudding.  That brings in culinary elements from the cool mountains of Luxembourg to the sunwashed plains of India, from the palm trees of Puerto Rico and Mexico to the turquoise seas of Greece.  And more. 

Where did they come from?  Why, from the people for whom you opened the door in Aurora, Illinois. 

The Aurora Historical Society recognizes eleven heritage groups whose contributions substantially built the city, and each of them will be filling the table at the Pierce Art and History Center with the birthday cakes and desserts of their culture.  All this will be in honor of William A. Tanner, an Aurora pioneer who would celebrate his 200th birthday this month.  The party, from 5-9pm on Friday, February 6, opens a new exhibit, “The Life and Times of William A. Tanner, 1815-1892” at the Pierce Center, 20 East Downer Place, Aurora, 60505.  The exhibit will run Wednesdays-Saturdays from Noon until 4pm through May 9, 2015.  Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

The exhibit, curated by Executive Director John Jaros, will showcase numerous new artifacts recently donated or loaned by Tanner family members.  Several generations of Tanner descendants are expected to attend.  Music will be provided by Le Trio de Aurora.

“It was William Tanner who, as a 20-year-old surveyor, then later a farmer and later still a hardware store merchant and property developer, helped build a diverse Aurora, supporting her industrial underpinnings that brought in waves of immigration.   That created a city of remarkable strength and character,” says Mary Clark Ormond, society president.  “We still have that character, and we think Mr. Tanner would be proud to think his birthday party would be like this.”

See what you started, Mr. Tanner.