Late Saturday afternoon, June 30, the Eden Palais Victorian Palace at the Sanfilippo Estate in Barrington Hills served as the setting for the Installation Ceremony for Rotary District 6450 Governor, Pat Merryweather. Merryweather, who is a member of the Rotary Club of Naperville, began serving her one-year term on July 1. This year’s theme created by Rotary International President Sakuji Tanaka is “Peace through Service.”
Past District Governor Art Davis, also a member of the Rotary Club of Naperville, officiated as Master of Ceremonies for the installation of the Rotary District 6450 Governor, Assistant Governors and District Leadership. Along with Merryweather, Cliff Lydia was installed as Governor Elect and Nicki Scott became Governor Nominee. David Templin became immediate Past District Governor.
Rotarians and guests from throughout District 6450, the birth place of Rotary, discovered a wonderland of carnival collectibles and music machines, many imported, from the turn-of-the-century— the turn from the 1800s to the 1900s. The international flavors of the sense-surroundings provided a peaceful place to consider the words of RI President Tanaka who wrote, “Through service we become more tolerant of our differences and more grateful for the people in our lives. Our sense of gratitude drives us to understand others better and to see the good in everyone. Through better understanding, we learn to respect others. With mutual respect, we live with other in peace.”
Sanfilippo Estate Executive Director Gregory Leifel graciously greeted all guests personally with apologies that Jasper Sanfillippo and his wife were unable to attend because they were at another location on the estate celebrating their grandchild’s first birthday. Leifel also noted that since 1987, charities have raised millions of dollars for their causes via the Sanfilippo Foundation and special events at the estate.
The afternoon soirée provided special self-guided tours of the Victorian Palace at the Sanfilippo Estate with concerts in just about every room, unlike anything most in attendance had ever experienced.
Somewhat in awe of the objet d’art and sparkling memorabilia, one guest was overheard commenting, “I feel as though I’ve died and gone to a carnival.”
A beautiful antique organ was accompanied by a player grand pianos for amazing ghost-like concerts in the spacious hall also known as Place de la Musique. This 44,000-square-foot home houses automatic antique music machines as well as original Tiffany lamps.
Coincidentally, PN found the Sanfilippo Estate to be reminiscent of some exhibits in the Martin Mitchell Mansion at Naper Settlement. In the late 1800s, many changes took place that defined the time, trends and styles, some of which are interpreted by costumes docents at Naperville’s outdoor history museum. Though the Chicago Fire sparked changes in Naperville’s then-farming community, the 19th century gave way to the Industrial Revolution throughout the world. Victorian times marked many new thoughts, ideas, and man-made music machines that extended into the 20th century, many of which are on exhibit at the Sanfilippo Estate.
The Victorian Palace is a private residence. Exhibits include the world’s renown theater organs with 8,000 pipes, the 1881 Grant Steam Locomotive, the 1890 European Eden Palais Carousel from France, Victorian memorabilia, antique music, arcade, gambling machines; coin-operated pianos; automated violins; and a street clock standing 20 feet tall. Ironically, the first piano that started the collection was sold.
These days, the Victorian Palace attracts attention and recollections from past centuries and international influences as a popular place for fundraisers and special events such as the Rotary District 6450 Installation Dinner.
As all the District Governors in Rotary International begin their terms this month, here’s to creating a gentler, kinder world of “Peace through Service,” good leadership and civility.
“In whatever you do, we wish you a year of fun, fellowship and and service,” noted Merryweather, with wishes to work together to bring “Peace through Service.”
Naperville is home to four different Rotary Clubs, all of which meet weekly at various times.