Naperville founder Joseph Naper returned to his homestead Friday -- at least symbolically -- as city public works crews installed a 1,500-pound sculpture of the pioneering settler at Mill Street and Jefferson Avenue.
The sculpture officially will be unveiled and dedicated during a ceremony scheduled for 4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, at the site near what's now downtown Naperville.
Naper Settlement Curator of Research Bryan Ogg said the bronze-cast sculpture depicts Naper as he was when he first arrived in the area that now bears his name -- a 33-year-old land surveyor standing near a tree stump and a box of tools.
The sculpture is covered in burlap for now and secured by rods placed in foot-long holes drilled into the ground.
Sketched by Naperville cartoonist Dick Locher and sculpted by Jeff Adams of inBronze foundry in Mount Morris, Ill., both of whom were on hand Friday, the $185,000 piece was funded by grants the settlement received.
Crews on Friday closed one block of Mill Street for about four hours as they used a crane to lower the sculpture into place on the Naper Homestead interpretive site at the southeast corner of Mill and Jefferson.
The work caught the eye of people walking in the area and about 40 gathered to watch the statue take its place.
"It was a really neat morning for history in Naperville," city spokeswoman Kate Houlihan said. "This is a community that really does care deeply about its history and honors the memory of its founder."
City officials say parking spots on northbound Mill between Jackson and Jefferson avenues will remain blocked until Aug. 22 as workers prepare the sculpture for its public debut.