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Naperville
Thursday, April 25, 2024

What do vintage downtown buildings say to you?

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“A country without a past has the emptiness of a barren continent; and a city without old buildings is like a man without a memory.”

—Graeme Shankland
British Architect (1917-1984)

Washington at Chicago / Bank of Naperville. Built 1857.

Just off Washington, along Benton at Center / Congregational Church. Built 1905 (third building on the site since 1845) Original congregation founded in 1833.

Washington, just north of Jefferson / Old Nichols Library. Built 1898 from money donated to Naperville by James L. Nichols, Mifflin E. Bell the architect.

Washington at Jefferson / Captain Morris Sleight. Built 1858. Formerly Roseland Draperies.

Washington Street / Frederick Kailer Block. Built 1897 for Frederick Kailer, a son of a German immigrant and cobbler. Kailer’s store catered to men’s and women’s clothes/accessories.

Washington at Franklin / Willard Scott, Sr. house. Built 1867.

Washington at Jefferson / Original entrance faced Jefferson in 1860 as the George Reuss Tailor Shop. Later Reuss chartered the Reuss State Bank and added fancy red granite corner entrance (1897).

Washington Street at Benton / Service mural is above Rick Motta’s building on which the murals are painted.  The Art Deco post office next to his building was built in 1939.  It was the first building built specifically for the U.S. post in Naperville.  Prior to 1939 the post office was in the home of the postmaster or rented office buildings in various locations downtown.

Jefferson Hill Shops / Original (core) of house built in the 1840s. The Beaux Arts columns were a reaction to the Columbian Exposition in Chicago (World’s Fair) of 1893. Noted home of Mayor Francis Kendall (and his son, WWI hero, Julian Oliver “Judd” Kendall).

Washington Street / YMCA.  Cornerstone dedicated on Decoration Day 1910.  The dedicatory program took place March 23-26, 1911. National YMCA did not think a small farm town of 4,000 could build or support a Y – but Naperville raised $26,266 in 15 days to start the project!  Excavation began in 1909, but funds fell short.  An additional $15,000 was raised in 8 days!

6 W. Jefferson Ave. / According to the “Summary of Findings,” this downtown building was built for George Boettger, a Prussian immigrant, who ran a butcher shop. Later, his son William managed a “provisions store” at this location. The second story was used as a residence by both families. What’s occupies both floors now? Nando’s Peri-Peri.

Thanks to local historian Bryan Ogg for assisting with brief and factual historical references.

RELATED LINK / The City of Naperville website includes a fascinating Summary of Findings for Downtown from 2010. “The buildings in the downtown survey represent the major historic periods of commercial development in Naperville, from the earliest stone commercial block on built on Main Street in
the 1840s by Joseph Naper, to the glass and neon Burger King restaurant built in the 1950s.
The majority of the 54 buildings in the survey—35 or approximately 65%—date from the 19th
century. Of the 20th-century structures in the survey, 11 date from between 1900 and 1919, six
were constructed between 1920 and 1939, and only two were built between 1940 and 1959.”

Get to know this city’s architectural and rich history.

And here’s a link to the 2030 Plan for downtown Naperville.

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PN Ombudsman
PN Ombudsman
An ombudsman is Scandinavian in origin dating back to Viking times; and refers to a community representative; usually acting independently on behalf of an organization, body of elected officials, or civic group. Thanks Scandinavia for inventing ombudsman.
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