The City of Naperville was founded in 1831 by Captain Joseph Naper. Later, he was elected president of the board when the village of Naperville was incorporated in 1857. In 1890, Naperville organized as a city, and by 1960, the population had grown to 12,933. By 2000, the city had grown to 50 square miles with a population of 128,358, becoming the third largest city in Illinois. Today, Naperville is a thriving city of over 145,000 residents with a vibrant, historic Downtown central business district.
The mission of the City of Naperville is to preserve and enhance the quality of life by providing municipal services that are responsive to the needs of the residents and businesses and are reliable, efficient and fiscally responsible. Contained in the City of Naperville Strategic Plan, Naperville’s Legacy Statement reads: “Be recognized for our exceptional quality of life through a sense of heritage and community in a large metropolitan city.” Two key values the City of Naperville believes are reflected in the community include heritage and tradition. The City of Naperville is committed to preserving the heritage and traditions of Naperville culture.
The Naperville Heritage Society was established in 1969, and later partnered with the city in order to preserve the city’s heritage and share it with future generations. The mission of the Naperville Heritage Society is to document, preserve and interpret the community life of Naperville, Illinois, including but not limited to the social, political, and business history.
On April 13, 2006, in commemoration of the town’s 175th anniversary, the City of Naperville purchased the original Joseph Naper Homestead at 338 W. Jefferson Avenue (SE corner of Jefferson Avenue and Mill Street) due to its historical significance. Subsequently, two on-site archeological digs managed by the Naperville Heritage Society conducted in 2006 and 2007 revealed foundation elements of four different structures that once stood on the site, as well as more than 25,000 artifacts.
Once the archeological work was completed, the City Manager Pro Tem requested that the Naperville Heritage Society present its recommendations for potential use of the Naper Homestead. An ad-hoc board, consisting of staff and volunteers, was formed to evaluate recommendations. The main recommendation of the ad-hoc board was to transform the now vacant Naper Homestead property into a passive park commemorating the town’s founder Captain Joseph Naper. The recommendations of the ad-hoc committee were presented to and accepted by the City Council on September 16, 2008.
Subsequent to the City Council meeting, conceptual renderings of the passive park were produced. The ideas were shared with residents of the Westside Homeowners Association on September 25, 2008. On October 2, 2008 a public meeting was held at North Central College’s Smith Hall to present the archeological findings and conceptual ideas for the use of the Naper Homestead.