Fermilab History and Archives Project

Phillips Farm: Site 38

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Phillips Family History

Phillips Farm

Harry Alexander Phillips was born in 1899 in Iowa, the son of Henry G. Phillips and Gertrude Stephenson. In 1928, he founded H.A. Phillips and Co., a manufacturer of industrial refrigeration equipment, in Chicago. He was considered one of the pioneers of the ammonia refrigeration industry. Harry met Wayland Nickell, the daughter of Lee and Mary Nickell, while she was working in the Chicago tenements as a nursing case worker, and they were married in 1932.  Wayland had been born in 1909 in Indiana. In 1949, Harry and Wayland moved west from River Forest, Illinois with their four children, Mary, Bonnie, David, and Jenny, to what they named the Sun Bonnet Farm (site 38) on Old Batavia Road in Batavia. The house had been built between 1900 and 1910. It was a two-story, wooden frame house with two barns (including one silo), and 5 sheds. Wayland hosted square dances on the Sun Bonnet farm and once raised $100,000 for the Menninger Foundation, a clinic, sanitarium, and school of psychiatry in Topeka, Kansas. The Bonnie Kathleen Phillips Memorial Pavilion for Troubled Children was named after her youngest daughter, Bonnie, who was killed in a horse-riding accident at the farm.

After Harry passed away in 1957, Wayland decided to run the H.A. Phillips Company. She became a very successful business woman in the industrial refrigeration industry, and she moved the business to St. Charles in 1964. She ran the company until she retired at the age of 82. In 1957 she had started to purchase land in Ouray County, Colorado and she accumulated one of the largest ranches in the area and moved there when they sold their farm to the state of Illinois. The Phillips’ son, David, devoted his entire career to H.A. Phillips & Co.

Harry and Wayland’s grandson, Andrew McCullough, also worked for the company from 1992-2005. Andrew brought his family to Fermilab in 2008 to tour the old family home currently located at 19 Sauk Circle. Parts of the barn and silo remain at Site 38 on Old Batavia Road.

The Pioneer Cemetery has been on the grounds of this farm on Old Batavia Road since 1839. Fermilab has preserved the cemetery since 1972.

Farm Families

Farm Families