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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Exactly one year ago news spread about sale of Old Nichols for redevelopment


Above / The Old Nichols Library property, along the gateway to downtown Naperville, is prepared for demolition of the 1960s addition to begin April 9, 2018, and be completed, weather permitting, sometime in May. 

UPDATE, Feb. 16, 2022 / Late in the afternoon on every sunny day, the historic Old Nichols Library building along Washington Street in downtown Naperville glistens to showcase its relevance to the culture, architecture and fond memories of the community. This summer, the restored site expects to have a new tenant when owners of the Gia Mia Italian restaurant chain open their doors.

As another note of history, back in December when we heard this arrangement was in the works at Old Nichols, Purdue was Number One in NCAA men’s basketball ranking for the first time ever. Today Purdue is ranked Number Five. The Boilermakers play Northwestern in Evanston at 8PM, Feb. 16, 2022. Let us add, “Boiler Up!”

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Original Post, April 7, 2018 / What a difference exactly one year has made…

Quite noteworthy to many residents could be that exactly one year ago today, April 7, 2017, news about the sale of Old Nichols created a buzz among local business leaders during a gathering in the parking lot at Jefferson at Ogden. On that date, a special event was hosted by Mayor Steve Chirico with public officials to announce that Patel Brothers’ had purchased the property to revitalize the vacant Menard’s property to open a grocery and more. While folks were thrilled about the sale of the former Menard’s property, many were stunned to learn about the sale of Old Nichols for redevelopment. The new Patel Brother’s Grocery opened in March 2018.

Community Open House introduces Architectural Renderings

Soon afterward on May 16, 2017, a Community Open House (with architectural renderings) was held by the developer in the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce Conference Room.

‘Old Nichols’ Timeline tells story 

Then a timeline was assembled with dates, facts and briefs that tell the story of James L. Nichols, his business successes, his ties to North Central College, and his generosity to the City of Naperville that included a bequest of $10,000 to build a library back in 1895.

Old Nichols Schedule of Demolition Update

Submitted April 4, 2018 / From William J. Novack, City of Naperville, Director of Transportation / Engineering / Development…

Our Field Projects Manager met with the development team on site (110 S. Washington Street) today and has provided the following weekly schedule as of today (April 4, 2018). 

Please note that these schedules are always subject to change, but as of April 4, 2018,  below is what the development team proposes for the coming weeks:

  1. This week:  Install fence and gates around the site (Photos show this task has been completed.)
  2. Week of April 9:  Remove topsoil from site, install temporary construction drive along south property line and install temp electric service
  3. Week of April 16:  Environmental work and abatement of the 1960’s addition
  4. Week of April 23:  Environmental work and abatement of the rest of the building
  5. Week of April 30:  Disconnect utilities (water, sewer and electric), commence with demolition of the 1960’s addition, placement of sheet pilings as demo progresses and infill of the lower level and first floor openings by masonry contractor
  6. Week of May 7:  Demolition of the 1960’s addition will continue; commencement of the demo of the 1930’s portion may start this week depending on progress
  7. Week of May 14 until sometime in May:  Demolition will continue until completed.

Photos taken Sat., April 7, 2018, reflect preparation earlier this week of the work site for demolition.


RELATED PN POSTS / Thanks for interest in Old Nichols Library… Stories with photos & maps, too!

During demolition of the 1960’s addition, one of two access points to and from the project will be along Washington Street where gates to the fenced-in area will open for trucks and other work vehicles. Asphalt has been poured along the curb where traffic cones also mark the entrance.

“’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.’ … The essential feature of a landmark is not its design, but the place it holds in a city’s memory.” — Herbert Muschamp “Tourism does not go to a city that has lost its soul.”

Editor’s Note: In his quote posted above, New York Times American architecture critic Herbert Muschamp (1947-2007) quoted Graeme Shankland (1917-1984), a leading British architect in his day.

PN also has used Shankland’s quote numerous times when communicating to developers with plans to redevelop the Old Nichols property. In our view, Old Nichols stands prominently for this community’s investment in education, literacy, culture, philanthropy and entrepreneurship.

And did you know? The Nichols Library (1898) is one of three designs still standing in DuPage County by nationally-known architect Mifflin E. Bell. The other two are First National Bank of Naperville (now La Sorella restaurant and at one time City Hall) built in 1891 and the DuPage County Courthouse (now luxury condos) built in 1896.  M. E. Bell is the same man that created dozens of federal buildings across the nation and whose name is engraved on the top of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

The Old Nichols building currently can be seen and appreciated from all angles – that is what the architect intended, and that is what in most cases “landmark status” intends to protect, according to local historian Bryan Ogg. In Naperville, the landmark status that was written to apply to residential homes/properties about 20 years ago has been applied to this prominent historic building. PN always will wonder why.

From the input received in recent months, the Naperville community is eager to see how the redevelopment will appear with the landmark Old Nichols Library adapted into a new design yet to be seen.

Updated, April 13, 2018: Truth Lutheran Church vacated Old Nichols and moved into its new home at 503 W. Bauer Road at Mill Street. A ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 13, 2018, with City officials and developers marked the official grand opening of the Chinese-American church, which will host worship services, educational programs and community gatherings.

Mayor Steve Chirico cut the ribbon for the new Truth Lutheran Church on April 13, 2018 for the congregation that previously held their worship services in the Old Nichols Library. (PN Photo)


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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.


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