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Thursday, March 30, 2023

430 S. Washington demolition comes with plenty of memories


UPDATE / Jan. 18, 2014: The property at 430 S. Washington has been leveled and open space for one year as it leads to the Moser Covered Bridge along Riverwalk opening to the North Central College Gateway. In time, the land now owned by North Central College is being considered as a place to reflect the history of cross country at the college, likely to include a tribute to Head Men’s Cross Country Coach Al Carius. Carius and his teams have ranked as our nation’s champions both in outdoor track & field and one in indoor track & field numerous times. After design and engineering in 2015, watch for the park to develop sometime in 2016.

Post / Jan. 19, 2013: When our family moved here in 1993, the unkept property next to the classic Burger King changed with the seasons to accommodate enterprises such as a Halloween novelties and costumes store, H & R Block tax preparation centers and a golf shop with the latest big-headed clubs and accessories. Though the building has been empty for a decade, the property just south of the Washington Street Bridge always proved to be a popular place to plant political signs during every silly season. And now in less than eight hours of demolition, that run-down building has become a bunch of piles of rubble. Thanks to North Central College, soon it will be another park along the Riverwalk. —Stephanie Penick, PN Publisher

Click any of the photos to enlarge.

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To Positively Naperville:  There used to be an auto shop there run by a person named Meilley. I remember vaguely they had a gas pump out front. Then there was what we called “The Bird Cage Factory.” They some how dumped something in the DuPage River that killed a lot of fish. That was back in the late 1940s early 1950s. When it was torn down for the building that is there now, I don’t know if they removed the gas tank in the ground or if they ever cleaned up the ground. Also, in the north part of the building that is there now, it was a Lora Mae Donut Shop.

I wish the people who write things for papers would get things instead of just writing, without getting the facts correct. That building as it was (before demolition on Jan. 19), was built in the 1950s and the old building was built in the 1930s, but then, most people who write for newspapers are not too bright. —Mike Ripsky

To Positively Naperville: I won’t miss this…but I don’t like how it happened! Burger King Corp wanted to buy it. The owner wanted to develop it. The city put the cabash on all other plans until the owner went under water…now the city gets what it wanted. —Kristy Guill

To Positively Naperville: I wonder if you could see evidence of the fire in the 70’s at the restaurant on the southwest side of the building? I should have gotten up to watch. Lots of good memories of that place.

I am as glad as the next person that the eyesore on 420 S. Washington will soon be coming down. Once it comes down it will be easier to remember what a fun little building that was in the 60’s and 70’s.

I don’t know when it was first erected. I do know that it was there in the late 30’s and that during WWII it was a car dealership. Rumors say that they were illegally selling new cars during the war. Flash forward to the 60’s and you have one of my first memories of downtown Naperville: Lora Mae’s Donut shop. Lora Mae’s occupied the south section of the building. I can still remember walking in and seeing the display case on the right. My favorite donut was a white frosted cake donut with colored sprinkles. As a chocoholic it seems odd that chocolate cake was my only my second favorite. Perhaps it was the bright sprinkles that swayed my opinion. (By the way in my opinion Fleckenstein’s Bakery in Mokena, IL makes the closest thing to a Lora Mae donut that I’ve ever tasted). You had to get there early in the day unless you liked the smell of cigarette smoke in your donuts; and some people did. Like any donut and coffee shop it had tables in the back and many people smoked back then.

In the 70’s Naperville Cyclery moved in. The owner was always friendly and didn’t mind us hanging out there. I don’t recall his name but the last time I saw him was he was selling Harleys when Heritage Harley Davidson first opened up on North Aurora Rd in Naperville. The bicycle shop was located in the northwest section of the building. It had a curious looking alarm system. I can still picture it. It was basically a car battery with some electronics, two lights and a loud siren on top. If you knocked on the window, or maybe just breathed on it, it would go off with alarm wailing and lights blinking. I remember a new restaurant went in where Lora Mae’s used to be. After a short time it burned out. A few days after the fire the bike shop owner took us through a connecting door to look at the remains. Everything was blackened except for a box full of matchbooks on the counter which was not burned at all.

Before the bicycle shop there was a laundromat in that spot. Also during that time period there was also a dance studio in the building. I’ve heard many reminisce about the strictness of one of the dance instructors and perhaps the whack of her cane on your leg. In more recent years it housed a comic shop, a tax preparation shop and many other shops that came and went before it got into the pitiful state it is in now. So as you appreciate the park that is going in don’t remember that nasty hulk of a building that sits there now. Think of your first donut, your first bike or perhaps an early dance class or even your first comic book.  —Daniel Bulley

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.