Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Naper Settlement

"Naper Settlement, the only nineteenth-century outdoor historic village in metropolitan Chicago, began in 1969 as a cooperative effort... to preserve examples of that city's heritage as an agricultural village before development completely transformed Naperville into a 'technoburb,' ” writes Harold R. Wilde in the Encyclopedia of Chicago. "The 13-acre 'living village' in downtown Naperville encompasses 27 historic relocated, recreated, or restored structures, including a Gothic revival church (1864), operational blacksmith and print shops, the first hotel built west of Chicago, and the Martin Mitchell house (1883), deeded to the city in 1936 and for many years Naperville's historical museum."

Naper Settlement's collection indeed spans the decades -- of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Very early Naperville is found in a log cabin...

... and a re-created stockade. The original stockade, according to the sign, was built for the Black Hawk War but never saw any hostilities. Later, it was used as a pen for animals.

Martin Mitchell was a Chicago-area brick baron, or rather bricks and other building material, of the late 19th century. He certain used enough bricks to build his house, tours of which were available when we visited.

The volunteer guide wasn't exactly overflowing with information, but she did mention in passing that Mitchell had three children, but no grandchildren, and that one of his daughters was a dwarf.

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