Thursday, January 26, 2006

Beyond Chicago: Naperville, Illinois – A Taste of Pioneer Days

Naperville, Illinois has grown to be one of the state’s largest cities, but if you visit downtown Naperville, you will get a taste of its original charm. Jefferson Street is the core of the city, and it still retains small shops and many appealing restaurants.
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One Naperville specialty is Pioneer Days in the unique Naper Settlement, located in the downtown area. The settlement is a virtual museum, made up of 19th century homes, shops and public buildings. A popcorn stand there was once an active business. A Chinese gentleman sold popcorn there for many years, saving to bring his lady to America. The former, outgrown Episcopalian Church was moved into the village and is now a site for many Naperville weddings. All of the Settlement buildings contain historical furnishings and factual descriptions. Costumed villagers relate the story of Naperville’s early years and its growth into the city of today.

Adjacent to Naper Settlement is the Martin-Mitchell Museum, a beautifully restored mansion from Naperville’s earlier days. Guided tours are available. The museum building has a library of special interest to genealogists, covering primarily Naperville and DuPage County, but including broader area information.

The Settlement hosts year-round activities, from Civil War reenactments to candle dipping demonstrations. To check out the schedule of events, visit their website http://www.napersettlement.org/. The city of Naperville has a website http://www.naperville.il.us/ which offers dining and lodging suggestions.

Thanks to Nancy Houston for her informative look at Naperville.

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