Not far from Naperville’s bustling downtown, you can peer back into our town’s past. The Riverview Farmstead, located at 111th and Book Rd., offers this unique view of 19th Century farm life.
The Will County Forest Preserve District now owns the property, and it’s trying to find the money to restore some of the Farmstead’s most treasured buildings.
While the restorations have yet to take place and the settlement is still a bit rough around the edges, the Forest Preserve hopes it can serve in the future as a tool for learning.
“We want to get school groups out here and the public to see the history,” said Forest Preserve Community Partnerships Manager Jim McFarland. “The development is this area has been unprecedented and you don’t see much more farm land around.”
The Forest Preserve recently held a fundraiser to raise dollars to help spruce up the historical farmstead that provided resources to the area in the 1800’s and 1900’s. The land was originally purchased from the government by the Clow family back in 1844 for just $1.25 per acre. They constructed the buildings that still stand today.
“It was a dairy farm,” said Forest Preserve Commissioner Ann Dralle. “It was part of the agricultural community of this entire township.” Proceeds from the fundraiser will go straight to much needed restoration projects, including one for the settlement house, originally constructed in 1850. “That structure is going to receive new windows, doors, new siding, and a new roof—mostly all exterior work,” said Forest Preserve Director of Planning and Operations Ralph Schultz.
“What we’re trying to do is preserve the history of the site.” Thanks to the city’s expansion today, the site provides a local lesson in the area’s agricultural past. “It’s right in your backyard. It’s a nice day trip” said Forest Preserve Commissioner Laurie McPhillips.
“It takes a community to raise a child,” said McFarland. “It’s going to take a community to get this back into standings where it could bring people in.”
Supporters hope the farmstead can become a place where the history leaps out of the book and provides an up-close look at the way life in Naperville used to be.
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