Above / The street named for President George Washington runs north to south in Naperville. The city’s most important thoroughfare through downtown Naperville crosses under the BNSF railway tracks near Fifth Avenue and over bridges of the West Branch of the DuPage River. In addition to vehicular traffic, many small businesses, schools, churches and more dot the landscape along busy Washington Street. Fredenhagen Park and the Naperville Riverwalk connect to Washington Street in downtown Naperville.
Inspired to update what we’ve posted in the past about Presidents Day, we recalled a story two years ago by PN columnist Bryan Ogg. Affectionately known as the “History Detective,” Ogg recently wrote Naperville: A Brief History, published by The History Press in 2018.
To enhance a story about Abraham Lincoln, Ogg provided this 1939 photo of the original Pre-Emption House when it was located at Chicago Avenue and Main Street in downtown Naperville. (Where Sullivan’s Steakhouse is now.) Today the re-creation of the Pre-Emption stands at Webster and Aurora Avenue, serving as the gateway to Naper Settlement, the city’s outdoor history museum.
Note the image of Honest Abe on the large sign over the door that proclaims, “One of Abraham Lincoln’s Favorite Stops Built in 1831. From the door above, he spoke to our forefathers.”
According to Ogg, sometime between 1931 and 1946 local lore began circulating that Lincoln spoke on the porch of the Pre-Emption House. To this day, evidence of truth in that legend has not been proven as fact.
From 15,000 biographies to Lincoln Logs
Moving right along, February 12 was the 210th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.
According to literary sources, more books, as many as 15,000, have been written about Lincoln than any other American. And what other U.S. President was named in a popular learning toy for children? Remember Lincoln Logs?
Briefly profiled here, Lincoln was born in Kentucky and lived in Indiana prior to moving to Illinois where he became a lawyer. From 1834 to 1849, he served in and out of politics in Springfield and Washington, D. C., returning to politics in 1854. He was a leader of the Republican Party which was established in 1856 to oppose slavery. In 1861, he began his first term as the 16th U.S. President, the same year the Confederate States proposed to withdraw from the Union, and the Civil War broke out. Lincoln is credited for the memorable phrase “Government of the people, by the people and for the people,” an excerpt from his Gettysburg Address in 1863. He was assassinated in 1865.
Remember 2019 Presidents Day on February 18
In a nutshell, Presidents Day is celebrated annually on the third Monday in February, giving local schools. U.S. Stock Markets and some government agencies a three-day weekend. For 2019, Presidents Day is Mon. Feb. 18.
Officially established in 1968 to honor the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, the holiday law was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and the third-Monday date for Presidents Day was selected since it coincides closest with Washington’s birth date on February 22.
Prior to 1968, the holiday was held on February 22 in many states.
Certainly, most folks have learned and recognize Washington as the first U.S. President. He’s the face on the one dollar bill. Born in Virginia in 1732, Washington served against the French in the Seven Years War. When conflict between the British government and the Americans over taxation came to a head, Washington led as a successful general, leading troops to victory at Yorktown, Pennsylvania, in 1781, essentially ending the war. In 1787, Washington presided over the Philadelphia Convention of 39 men, aiming to formulate the U.S. Constitution. He served as President, limiting himself to two terms from 1789 to 1797. Washington died in 1799.
Four U.S. Presidents born in February
Four U.S. Presidents were born in February, even though Lincoln and Washington are the two mentioned to honor on Presidents Day. In addition to Washington and Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and William Henry Harrison share this birthday month.
Born in Virginia on Feb. 9, 1773, William Henry Harrison served as an American military officer and politician prior to being elected the ninth President of the U.S., beginning in 1841. At the time, Harrison was the oldest of any president to win election. On his 32nd day in office, he died of what was believed to be pneumonia. Harrison is distinguished for serving the shortest tenure in U.S. Presidential history.
More than a century later on February 6, 1911, Ronald Reagan was born in northern Illinois. Reagan was renowned as a TV actor and movie star prior to his election as Governor of California in 1967. In 1980, Reagan won a Republican presidency, followed in 1984 with a land side victory, serving two terms as the 40th Commander in Chief. Reagan died in 2004.
Look up and all around for signs of history
Stroll the Naperville Riverwalk where furry friends scurry and ducks and geese hurry across the winding brick path. Venture over to Naper Settlement where local history comes alive throughout the 12-acre village. Book tickets at the theater venues and explore the art galleries at North Central College. Think dinner and the show. Make reservations for special occasions.
Enjoy history. Shop locally. Keep moving forward. Look up, even when the ground is covered with snow. Winter is more than half way to springtime. Thanks for reading!
Editor’s Note / Some of the dates and facts were found in the “everyday handbook,” Dictionary of American Politics.
Previous PN Posts related to President George Washington
George Washington’s Egg Nog (Complete with Recipe!)
Remember Constitution Week every September
Kindness in Naperville was influenced by George Washington’s Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior
Revolutionary War Patriot buried in Naperville Cemetery sailed with George Washington
Monday Calendar / Presidents Day! Schools Closed.
Check out the DuPage Children’s Museum, shops & eateries and other businesses located along Washington, Jefferson, Jackson & Van Buren streets!
‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’ at DuPage Children’s Museum – 9AM | $12
DuPage Children’s Museum – 130 N. Washington Naperville, IL 60540
DuPage Children’s Museum is proud to be the Chicagoland presenter of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit through May 12, 2019. This new exhibit that opened in January brings to life the themes presented in the award-winning PBS Kids television series created by The Fred Rogers Company that follows the adventures of 4-year-old Daniel Tiger and his friends. Note to Members! Enjoy 30 minutes of member-only time every Monday while “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: A Grr-ific Exhibit” is at the Museum through May 6, 8:30AM-9AM.
School’s Out Day Camp – Invention Dimension – 9AM | $40
Naper Settlement – 523 South Webster Street Naperville, IL 60540
Advance registration is required for this program in the Lower Level Century Memorial Chapel. Campers can try out some inventions from the past: dial a rotary phone, type on an electric typewriter, listen to vinyl records, and hear stories about early TV. Learn about famous inventors’ trials and errors. Compare modern inventions with those from the 1800s in the historic buildings at Naper Settlement. For info, call (630) 420-6010.
North Central College Visit Day – 9:15AM | Free
Wentz Concert Hall – 171 E. Chicago Ave. Naperville, IL 60540
High school students and their parents or guardians are invited to attend North Central College’s Visit Day Monday, Feb. 18, in the lobby of the Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center, 171 E. Chicago Ave. The day begins with check-in at 9:15AM and concludes at 12:30PM with lunch at Kaufman Dining Hall. Visitors can take a walking tour and attend informative sessions on financial aid, academic highlights and student life. An optional event for high-achieving students is set for 9AM. For more information and registration, call (630) 637-5800 or visit northcentralcollege.edu/visit/freshman-campus-visit-opportunities.
DuPage County Health Department Public Health Centers – Closed
DuPage County Health Department Public Health Centers in Addison, Lombard, West Chicago, Westmont and Wheaton
The DuPage County Health Department’s Public Health Centers in Addison, Lombard, West Chicago, Westmont and Wheaton will be closed Monday, Feb. 18, 2019, in observance of President’s Day. The Health Department’s Crisis Hotline (630) 627-1700 will remain in operation. All offices will reopen at their regular times on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019.
Click here for Meet & Greet the Candidates in Consolidated Election / Presidents Day-Plus
Click here for Candidate Forums hosted by various local organizations thru March 12.
Candle Light Vigil & Peaceful Demonstration – 6-7PM
Dan Shanower/Sept. 11 Memorial along the Riverwalk, 400 S. Eagle Street Naperville 60540
Indian Community Outreach (ICO) will host a Candle Light Vigil and Peaceful Demonstration to Stand Against Terror in the aftermath of horrific events in India on Feb 14, 2019. The observance will be addressed by Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico with other elected and community leaders. Organizer and Chairman Indian Community Outreach Krishna Bansal expects the event to be attended by over 1,000 people.
The Open Discussion Project at Anderson’s – 7PM
Anderson’s Bookshop 123 W. Jefferson Ave. Naperville 60540
Introductory Meeting is Mon., Feb. 18. The Open Discussion Project, sponsored by the National Coalition Against Censorship, the American Booksellers Association, and the National Institute for Civil Discourse, aims to promotes civil conversation at a time when Americans are deeply divided. All viewpoints welcome.