Friday, April 26, 2013

Celebrating History a Naperville Tradition

Here’s another look back at our town 100 years ago, when the Naperville Chamber was founded.

Of particular note this time around is that May is Community Heritage Month in Naperville. This is an early heads up so you can fit some of the planned events into your calendar.

The Naper Settlement began when Caroline Martin Mitchell bequeathed her home and the surrounding property to the cityin 1936. The house, now known as the Martin Mitchell Mansion, served as a museum until the 1970’s when preservation-minded citizens started moving other landmark buildings onto the property.

But there was a museum in town even before that which was housed on the second floor of the original Nichols Library.

Mary Barbara “Matie” Egermann was appointed to the job of librarian in 1909 and served in that position for the next 41 years.

The Souvenir of the Naperville Homecoming published in 1917 tells us that “In October, 1912, the librarian, Miss M. B. Egermann, opened the museum department, which, today, exhibits rare old treasures of Naperville’s pioneers and other specimens of historical and general interest.”

One of those old treasures was a bible once owned by John Naper, brother of Joseph and one of the original settlers.

In their commemorative booklet from 1931, the Naperville Centennial committee noted that in preparing for the centennial celebration, they used a number of historical resources “together with the documents and newspapers preserved by M. B. Egermann in the historical collection at the City Library.”

Today the Naperville Heritage Society keeps an extensive collection for future posterity and offers many great programs for current enjoyment, such as next month’s Civil War Days.

Learn about more of May’s Community Heritage Month events at the City of Naperville website.