Naper Settlement Construction

Naper Settlement has been transformed from a quiet 19th century village to a loud, modern-day construction zone. Crews just broke ground on the village’s “Storm Water Management and Improvement Project.” They’re replacing 42,000 square feet of old asphalt roadways with permeable pavers. The new roadways will be wider, making them more accessible for visitors and emergency vehicles. They also will better manage storm water.

“What this allows is for the water to hit the pavers, move through a small granite gravel between them and then move through the natural underground system, to be deposited into the DuPage River,” said Debbie Grinnell, Vice President of Museum Services at Naper Settlement.

Staff also plan to install rain barrels and rain gardens throughout the grounds that further collect rain water. In addition, workers are creating infiltration zones next to settlement buildings – which filter out water-borne pollutants and reduce the amount of runoff from rooftops. They also are redoing the surface of the parking lot next to Century Memorial Chapel.

“It has a photo catalytic surface, which in essence eats smog away,” said Grinnell. “The exhaust from cars and trucks are absorbed in the process and so it makes for a cleaner environment from an air quality perspective.”

The entire project will cost about $2.3 million, 85% of which is covered by federal and state grants, including funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Settlement staff say the high price tag is worth it when it comes to maintaining the beauty and integrity of a 19th century village.
“We’re really looking at what these best management practices are that people can employ today,” said Grinnell. “Interestingly enough, many of them go back hundreds of years in how people used and conserved water because they didn’t have city plumbing that brought it right to their doorstep.”

Some buildings will still be open to visitors throughout the summer, including the Martin-Mitchell Mansion, Meeting House, and Pre-emption House.

Workers will complete the “Storm Water Management and Improvement Project” in two phases, starting with the north side of the settlement grounds by Aurora Avenue. Then they’ll move to the south side near Porter and Water Street. They expect to finish all construction by the end of September.

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