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What does the Old Nichols Library say to you? Public hearing reset for Sept. 6


Above / Signs of the times remind residents that a four-story, mixed-use development has been proposed for the old Nichols Library at 110 S. Washington Street in Naperville, currently Truth Lutheran Church. 

Historic Preservation Commission is set to meet at 7PM Tues., Aug. 22

UPDATE, Aug. 5, 2017 / This past week, the notice for the next Historic Preservation Commission Meeting joined another sign of the times in front of the original Nichols Library, now property owned by a developer with plans to demolish the structure to make way for a four-story commercial and office development with condominiums.

FYI: One of North Central College’s most famous professors was James L. Nichols back in the 19th century.  Also a businessman, Nichols wrote a book called The Business Guide that sold more than a million copies back in the late 1800s. Upon his death at age 45 in 1895, he bequeathed the City $10,000 to build The Nichols Library, a structure built in 1898 that is still standing at 110 S. Washington Street, now home to Truth Lutheran Church. Nichols also left the College $10,000 to build Nichols Gymnasium, which burned to the ground in 1926.

Above / The Historic Preservation Commission will meet at 7PM on Tues., Aug. 22, in the Naperville Municipal Center to consider landmark status on the structure built in 1898.

According to the meeting agenda packet, the public hearing now will be Sept. 6, 2017.

UPDATE, July 28, 2017 / Positively Naperville appreciates clarification made by Communication Specialist Kate Schultz for the City of Naperville.  On Thursday, changes in the Planning and Zoning Commission Meeting Agenda and the order of business for the public hearing to consider a variance to exceed the maximum floor area ration (FAR) in the B4 (Downtown Core) at 110 S. Washington were questioned.

“On Wednesday (August 2, 2017), the Planning and Zoning Commission will open the public hearing solely to be able to take a vote to continue the hearing until September 6. The petitioner will not provide any testimony. In essence, all that happens is the vote to continue the hearing until September 6, and then the Planning and Zoning Commission will move on to the next item on their agenda for the evening,” emailed Schultz.

Earlier, the attorney for the petitioner wrote a letter attached to the agenda with the following request: “Because we have respect for the process and want to be fair to the advisory commissions, we feel both the petitioner and the property owner should be heard before the Historic Preservation Commission before we go forward to present plans before the Plan Commission. Therefore, we are requesting that the public hearing before the Plan Commission be continued until September 6th so that it will be after the August 22nd Historic Preservation Commission meeting.”

Public hearing is now slated for P&Z Commission Meeting on Sept. 6, 2017

The public hearing will take place beginning at 7PM Wed., Sept. 6, during the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in City Council Chambers, Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle Street. The meeting agenda packet of info will be available online Fri., Sept. 1, 2017.

Public comments are welcome at every Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. Public comments also are welcome during the Historic Preservation Commission meeting at 7PM on Tues., Aug. 22, 2017.

UPDATE, July 17, 2017 / In case Washington Street is not part of your daily traffic pattern, please note a notice of a public hearing went up today regarding the Old Nichols Library proposed development.

The developer requests a variance in the B4 (Downtown Core District) to exceed the maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 2.5.

The public hearing will take place beginning at 7PM Wed., Aug. 2, during the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting in City Council Chambers, Naperville Municipal Center, 400 S. Eagle Street. The meeting agenda packet of info will be available online Fri., July 28, 2017. (Update! Meeting packet notes change of P&Z Commission meeting to Sept. 6, 2017)

For more info, contact the planning services team at (630) 420-6100 ext. 5. Thanks for paying attention!

Above / The Old Nichols Library, built in 1898, is located at 110 S. Washington Street, just steps from Central Park.

Original Post, June 4, 2017 / Oh! The stories that live within the walls of Naperville’s old buildings as they’ve stood to witness the growth and development of this community from its early beginnings along the DuPage River.

Their charm connects to the City’s tangible past. Over and over, we’re told that respect for history and preservation is what has attracted recent residents to this active city founded in 1831, two years before Chicago.

Many buildings planted on green space serve as a welcoming historic gateway from the north, following Washington Street into downtown Naperville.

We’re well aware that quotes exist in countless volumes of books and media centers to express just about any thought. That’s why a quote by 20th century British architect Graeme Shankland resonated with us.

“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

As we try to imagine our thriving community without some of these old buildings, including the old Nichols Library as it sits in its large landscaped yard, we turn the page to our travels in Europe where thousand-year-old structures are attractive to visitors every day.

Just what is historic and worth saving for perpetuity? What does our city’s rich history mean to its future economy?

In the spirit of Jane Sindt and the committee that saved Century Memorial Chapel from the wrecking ball back in the 1960s to move it to what is now Naper Settlement, we’re faced with the question about the costs to save the old Nichols Library built in 1898. Can it be saved from the developer’s proposed plan to demolish the landmark building to redevelop it?

Washington Street is one way to enter downtown Naperville. And one way to continually welcome folks to the heart of the community is to preserve its character that dates back to a time when risk-takers began arriving here to build roads, begin farming and set up shop.

We agree with folks who say our community is about its citizens. As citizens, we understand the arguments of property rights as well as the cost of extra care and maintenance that come with old buildings.

We especially appreciate when historic buildings can be re-purposed and kept on the tax rolls.

Some structures just are not built to last forever. However, the old Nichols Library with its distinctive limestone presence speaks volumes about the value our community places on literacy, education, business, philanthropy, culture and community.

Above / The centerfold of PN’s June issue depicts 10 of the city’s buildings that help tell the community’s attractive and rich history.

Plan a walking tour this summer. Look up. Note the dates and parapet walls along the rooftops of many downtown buildings.

Memories matter in the mix of old and new.

And be sure to tour the downtown exhibit of artistically painted sculptures in the shape of open books. This summer seems like the perfect time for such a novel display.

RELATED POSTS / Downtown Naperville sculpture exhibit is bound to please (Featuring art by Marianne Lisson Kuhn)    

Proposed Nichols Place with renderings

Save Nichols Library Campaign For info and a petition organized by Barbara Hower with input from residents and former residents who seek other solutions and options to save the historic building, click here.

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