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Friday, September 29, 2023

The Curious Curator – City Museum Diamond Anniversary: ‘A Promise Fulfilled’


[shareprints gallery_id=”36169″ gallery_type=”filmstrip” gallery_position=”pos_center” gallery_width=”width_100″ image_size=”xlarge” image_padding=”0″ theme=”dark” image_hover=”false” lightbox_type=”slide” titles=”true” captions=”true” descriptions=”true” comments=”true” sharing=”true”]This year will mark the 75th anniversary of the Caroline Martin Mitchell Mansion as a city museum.  The museum was opened to the public on Sunday, September 14, 1939 as part of the DuPage County Centennial celebrations.  “A promise made to Mrs. Mitchell was that the dedication of such a memorial would witness the greatest celebration ever held in DuPage county.” The Naperville Clarion continued, “The promise was certainly fulfilled in the Naperville Week of the DuPage County Centennial, with Martin Park the scene of long to be remembered events.”

It was the sage counsel of Judge Win Knoch that encouraged the only heir of George Martin, Mrs. Edward (Caroline) Mitchell, to donate her home, contents, and property to the City of Naperville as a living memorial to her family and the community.  Knoch was a Naperville native and the Chairman of both the Naperville (1931) and DuPage County (1939) centennial celebrations.  Judge Knoch was also the Honorary Chairman of the Naperville Sesquicentennial in 1981!

A Museum Board was established by City government to manage a museum in the old home while the land immediately around the house was converted to a public park known as Martin Park.  The museum was dedicated by then Mayor James L. Nichols, Jr. with dedicatory remarks by history professor Dr. C. J. Attig of North Central College.  According to the Guest Register, 5,000 people visited the museum and exhibits in just three days!

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Over the years, rooms have been used for thematic exhibits, both private and public, a library, office space, and storage.  Since 1971 the house is managed by the Naperville Heritage Society as a house museum dedicated to telling the story of pioneer George Martin and his family.  The magnificent splendor and grandeur of the Martin home and Victorian culture was restored in 2003.

The Naperville Heritage Society is honored to be a part of the forethought and planning of those who 75 years ago dedicated a place for the preservation and presentation of our community’s stories.  The Heritage Society is eager and ready to continue the museum’s mission for generations to come.

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Bryan Ogg
Bryan Ogg
Bryan Ogg is a local historian and curator of local legend, stories and lore.


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