History Comes Home in Naperville

These houses in downtown Naperville may look ordinary, but they have a special history recognized by the Naperville Heritage Society and the plaque to prove it.

“There is some prestige and some honor in plaquing your home and identifying with your neighbors and the people that drive by that we’re proud of the history in this home,” said Bryan Ogg, Curator of Research at Naper Settlement.

The Plaque Program was started by the Naperville Heritage Society in 1970 and continues today in order to allow residents to commemorate the significance of their home.

Originally the Heritage Society would select homes to be plaqued. But due to growing interest, it’s now up to the residents to complete and application to be considered. And in this case, age is not as important as history.

“Every house and family has a story to tell, they may not be a Naper or famous person in town but their house was still built for them and that’s where they raised their family,” said Ogg.

When you walk down the streets of downtown Naperville today, you’ll come across several of these homes, like Hannah Ditzler’s, the daughter of a carpenter who left Naperville with a wealth of knowledge through her scrapbooks and diaries.

“it’s across the street from Naper Academy where she taught and went to school. It was a very easy house to plaque and had great significance to the community in Naperville,” said Ogg.

Other plaqued homes are noted due to their historical designs and residency like the house built by the founder of Oswald’s Pharmacy, William Wallace Wickle.

“Not only is it a substantial and great example if Queen Anne design, but that four or five generations of families have lived there in that home,” said Ogg.

While not all homes remain the same, the plaques can help commemorate a history unique to the house.

“People can drive by and still get that sense of feeling and community of what Naperville was like past present and in the future,” said Ogg.

There are about 150 plaqued historic structures in Naperville.

Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.

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