A little known and largely forgotten piece of Naperville Central High School's history has been cleaned up and is ready to be showcased thanks to a sentimental administrator and a few class gifts.
When Naperville Central was renovated in recent years, Lynne Nolan, dean for student activities, fought to save a roughly 10-by-6 feet mural. It featured a gathering of Native American chiefs, and hung in the teachers' lounge washroom in the school's basement since at least 1955.
"The building was changing and this is part of history. This is Naperville's history and this is Naperville Central history. When it's gone its gone," Nolan said. "At that time we were shoveling out a lot of the old and if you asked 95 percent of staff, they didn't even know the painting existed."
So she called Peggy Frank, president and CEO of Naper Settlement, to determine if the piece was worth the hefty $12,000 price tag to save.
With one week left before demolition, Nolan and Frank agreed the piece was likely connected to the historic self-taught Naperville artist Les Schrader and should be preserved.
Bryan Ogg, curator of research at Naper Settlement, agreed the painting was likely either painted by or under the direction of Schrader.
"The style, topic and way this mural is painted are all very typical of his work," Ogg said. "It was an important piece to save because it is, perhaps, an unknown piece by a very famous local painter that honors and preserves the history of the school and it's original Redskin mascot."
Gifts from the classes of 2006 and 2011 and the 2011 Student Advisory Council were then used to pay for the restoration and installation of the piece in its new home in Nolan's Student Activity Office.
"I'm one of the old ones here and I have a huge sentimental heart for this place because I'm a graduate," Nolan said. "We have this beautiful new building but people who take our reunion tours want to see something that takes them back to their own past. This will help."