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Thursday, March 30, 2023

Cornerstone Day presents time to reflect on essentials


Find the cornerstone on the northwest side of Old Main at North Central College.

Back in 1869, a small college in Plainfield that had been founded in 1861 planned to move to Naperville, enticed by an offer of $25,000, eight acres of land and close proximity to a railroad located at Fifth Avenue Station. Known first as Plainfield College, then North-Western College in 1864, the founders came to Naperville prepared to open for classes in 1870.

In 1926, the educational institution located in the heart of Naperville changed its name to North Central College.

Every May, it’s become tradition for folks at North Central to celebrate the historic event when officials laid the cornerstone for Old Main. On Friday, the Cornerstone Day Celebration Picnic was held in Gregory Arena inside Merner Field House due to inclement weather, the first time in our recollection that the event was not held outside on vacant property on campus.

Ted Slowik, Rick Spencer and Judy Brodhead, a few familiar faces  at North Central College.

Two years ago large tents were set up at the College’s proposed Bambule Riverwalk Gateway, adding the 150th anniversary of North Central College to the Cornerstone festivities. A year later, the picnic was held in the newly-completed park setting as was the plan for this year until the weather failed to cooperate.

Friday many familiar folks from North Central College were on hand to welcome students, neighbors and other members of the community to a complimentary lunch provided by many of the city’s favorite eateries with tastings set up on “Cardinal red” tabletop stations around the perimeter of the gymnasium.

Heaven on Seven served their signature New Orleans-style gumbo, complete with red hot sauces.

Upon entering the field house, a tent sign recognized Chartwells and all the participating restaurants that created the delicious event.

Over the years, the celebration has grown into a week-long series of events, recognizing student academic achievements and honoring faculty contributions leading up to Cornerstone Day.

As we observed the large enthusiastic crowd that had arrived under damp, cool conditions, we were mindful that Cornerstone Day also has become a time for us personally to reflect on the essential growth and development of the college since our family moved here in May 1993.

Cornerstone Day festivities were held inside Merner Fieldhouse.

We’d been looking to move our family to a college town in the Midwest from the East Coast. Naperville more than met our requirements for education, health services and public safety.

Back 21 years ago, Pfeiffer Hall stood alone as the stage for the performing arts—and the facility housed many practice rooms where our children took piano lessons. The thought process and visioning for the North Central College Fine Arts Center was in the beginning stages— and certainly without naming gifts that came to be for Wentz Concert Hall, the intimate Madden Theater and Schoenherr Art Gallery.

When we first arrived in Naperville, the Res Rec Center, the renovation of the former Grace Evangelical Church with its Meiley-Swallow Hall, the Sesquicentennial Walkway, Riverwalk Gateway, the restoration of Koten Chapel, parking lots and the demolition of the old “eyesore” along Washington St., now all completed initiatives among many others, had not yet been imagined by most members of the community.

Plus, after a flood in the stadium in 1996 and a fire in Old Main in 1997, both were restored and/or rebuilt during the late 1990s. Today Wehrli-Benedetti Stadium is a well-used landmark as well.

Looking toward the future, Cornerstone Week also is a time when the North Central College Board of Trustees holds its annual spring meeting. During its annual fall meeting in October 2013, college trustees selected a location for a new science center that will create many new educational opportunities for students. Certainly the picnic provided a time for many of the trustees to mix and mingle with hundreds of guests while answering questions about their plans with sights on Commencement for the Class of 2014 on Sat., June 14.

As the well-attended event came to an end, a number of trustees posed for a photo before they left to begin their afternoon sessions.

Jeff Swallow, Lori Novak, Mike Naset, Erin Bishop, Dr. Troy Hammond, Ray Kinney and Sue Koranda

Entertainment at the picnic was provided by talented North Central College student performers. Later Cornerstone Week concluded with Springfest, a year-end student celebration with live music, games, prizes, concert and more.

Live entertainment was performed by North Central College students.

In 2015, Cornerstone Day lands on May 17. Save the date. Meanwhile keep tabs on the performing arts and other featured programs at North Central College on the monthly events calendar.

Editor’s Update May 19, 2014! Monday morning Positively Naperville was informed by North Central College that 2,250 plates were utilized during the Cornerstone Day Picnic, so it’s safe to say that the event garnered at least 2,000 attendees. 

North Central College thanks Chartwells and all participating eateries including Angeli’s Restaurant, Walker’s Charhouse, Rizzo’s, Belgio’s Catering, Fontano’s Subs (South Naperville), Bella Familia, The Bangkok Village, bd’s Mongolian Grill, Sullivan’s Steakhouse, The Lantern, Colonial Cafe, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Smallcakes Cupcakery, Twisted Olive, Haagen-Dazs & Popcorn Palace, Heaven on Seven and Quigley’s Irish Pub.

Many stories about the happenings of North Central College in recent years are saved in the archive on this website.



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.