The Century Walk Corporation

Horse market frames the carillon

July 1, 2001 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Tim West

As I stood in Thursday afternoon's heat with about another 125 sweltering folks in front of the re-creation of Pre-Emption House at Naper Settlement, watching the dedication of the newest part of Century Walk, I could see the Millennium Carillon.

That the sculptured horse, boy and dog representing "Horse Market Days" at the Pre-Emption House framed the carillon in the distance seemed fitting, for all three represent the kinds of significant projects that help make Naperville more than just another bedroom community in suburban Chicago.

Naper Settlement, beginning with the inspiration and guidance of the Naperville Heritage Society and particularly that of the late Jane Sindt, has evolved steadily over the past quarter century to be one of the premier attractions in Illinois.

It has many different buildings, some re-created, some actually built in mid-19th-century Naperville and moved to the settlement site.

Naper Settlement was painstakingly put together and is cared for lovingly.

It's a first-class deal and it's right here.

Then there is Century Walk, artwork placed all over the downtown area to represent 20th-century Naperville.

The pieces dress up downtown and give shoppers something to look at that they can't find in other area cities.

Horse Market Days, which the new sculptures depict, predate the 20th century but lasted into the first quarter of the 20th century.

The original Pre-Emption House was at the northeast corner of Chicago Avenue and Main Street.

It was an inn and the horse market took place on its grounds.

The Pre-Emption House was demolished in 1946 to make way for an automobile sales building, which is ironic.

The inn that was from a horse-drawn era (it was built in 1834) and had a horse market on its grounds once a month gave way to the Cromer Motor Co.

Incidentally, information on the Pre-Emption House comes from Genevieve Towsley's "A View of Historic Naperville," a collection of the late writer's articles from The Sun.

It has been said that the demolition of the Pre-Emption House later became the inspiration for the formation of the Naperville Heritage Society, which first set out to catalog our city's historic buildings and place plaques on them designating their significance.

This town's emphasis on historical preservation and re-creation stems from Jane Sindt and the formation of the Heritage Society.

I wonder how different Naperville would be from any other suburb of Chicago if the organization had never been created.

Not much, I think.

Which brings us to the carillon.

Some people have been concerned that Naperville's spirit of volunteerism, at least in the generation of cash for projects, is going by the boards.

This is primarily due to the great difficulty the carillon foundation has had in getting donations to finish its project.

But I have thought for some time that the carillon is atypical of Naperville projects and that its problems are peculiar to that particular project.

I still have hope that more money will be raised and the rest of the carillon -- a visitor center, elevator and other features -- eventually will be built.

The main problem with the carillon was that when the total estimated cost jumped from $2 million to $6.5 million, residents gulped and said, "It costs what?"  I know I sure did.

I think that will be overcome the more it is played and the more people hear it when they go to the concerts, but it's going to a few years to get there.

In regards to the carillon, Naperville's generous spirit has not disappeared.

It's just been dormant for a while.



Section: NEWS — Page: 13