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Friday, June 21, 2024

The Curious Curator – Saving Old Nichols


Last month’s Naperville City Council decision to landmark the Old Nichols Library will long be remembered as one of the most significant victories for grass root efforts to preserve the history of our community since 1969. Preservationists, historians and concerned friends and citizens of Naperville encouraged city council and the developer to return the original Nichols Library to its place of honor in downtown Naperville and Central Park. The ordinance establishing the landmark status for the Old Nichols Library will ensure the building’s significance as a vibrant, prosperous asset for Naperville.

In numerous city publications, the Martin Mitchell Mansion and the Riverwalk are described as priceless crown jewels enjoyed and appreciated by thousands of Napervillians and visitors. The well-researched and written landmark application by Barb Hower and Charlie Wilkins clearly proves that the building at 110 S. Washington Street is also a priceless Naperville gem that deserves to be cleaned and polished just like the DuPage River was in 1981 and the Mansion in 2004.

Landmark status for the rare-in-Naperville, gem-like, Richardsonian Romanesque structure designed by nationally significant Mifflin E. Bell safeguards that the building will be preserved and creatively re-purposed as are so many of Bell’s monumental works across the country.

As Naperville rebounds from an economic slowdown experienced by so many communities since 2008, let’s continue to respect, maintain, and promote our built environment that distinguishes Naperville from other cities.

The charm of our streetscapes that attracts new residents and visitors to our town can be preserved and stabilized for sustainable and prosperous economic growth and development.

Let’s cherish the structural and historic gems as defined by the 1977 National Register of Historic Places for Naperville and the Downtown 2030 plan that make Naperville a unique and wonderful place to live, learn, work, play and visit.

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