We The People

Since 1969, Naper Settlement has been sharing stories of our town’s past and how it relates to the present- but that’s not the whole picture.

Naper Settlement invited guests to attend a private event to preview “We The People,” a new way to inspire their visitors through a different experience.

“We are so excited to share just a few of the stories that we hope to tell the public in the coming years, stories that really connect us to ‘We The People,’ that essence of who we are as Americans,” said Rena Tamayo-Calabrese, President & CEO of Naper Settlement.

Four groups were welcomed to tour through time around the Public Works Building, where Naper Settlement houses some of their artifacts. They heard stories not often told in town, like tales of bravery and sacrifice from World War One, and a lesson on justice from the Fair Housing Act. They also looked back at people who‘ve helped shape the town, like former Mayor Pradel and the Kroehler family in Naperville, a story many may not know.

The name may sound familiar, thanks to the Kroehler Family YMCA in town, but the story began long before the building got its name.

“My part of the Naperville story this evening was about Peter Kroehler, and how he started out at 21 at the Naperville Lounge Company, and by 31 was in charge of the company, to a company that he built up to be a world largest furniture manufacturer,” said Bryan Ogg, Curator of Research at Naper Settlement.

Ogg was able to show how Peter Kroehler not only built a business, but a connection to those in town, even today.

“Much of my family worked for Kroehler’s. My grandfather came down from Racine to make furniture, and then following that he actually introduced my grandmother and my grandfather who were working there at the time, and then my father worked there,” said Jan Erickson, a participant of “We The People.”

It was a rare look at a Naperville history not told before, but one that can help pave the way for the future.

“Everyone of these things do represent a story, and no ones story is better than the other, but if we don’t know these stories, we’ll lose a part of our history and something that makes us Napervillians,” said Ogg.

“This is so important, an understanding of our importance of our community, because you see how our community grew up and how Naperville developed is truly a mirror of how our county grew up,” said Tamayo-Calabrese.

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