Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Changes Around the Corner

Talk is swirling about how the proposed Water Street project will change the look of downtown Naperville. But not all downtown changes have been so dramatic.

When you pop into Noodles and Company for lunch the building fits right in with its neighbors even though it was radically updated thirteen years ago.

Just weeks before the new millennium dawned, a fire broke out in the upper floor of the building following some roofing work done earlier in the day. No one was injured in the fire that destroyed the upstairs apartments, but the lower level restaurant suffered severe smoke and water damage.

Coupled with the need to bring the old building up to code, repairs proved too costly so Wilma’s Café moved into a plaza on Ogden Avenue. But the space was rebuilt and it still strongly resembles its earliest incarnations.

Before the popular Café, the building held many other businesses, including a series of drug stores and dry goods stores.

Moses Hosler, General Merchant, advertised in the town’s first Holland’s Business Directory in 1886 with his then-partner Eli Ditzler. Moses’ daughter Malinda married John Rickert, a familiar Naperville name.

Later Herb Matter and Eli Stark ran a dry goods store in the same space. Eli Stark was also an enthusiastic amateur photographer whose legacy is a number of early Naperville photos. He is immortalized with his camera on the first panel of the “Pillars of the Community” mural on Chicago Avenue.