Naperville considering landmark discussions about more historic buildings

Old Nichols Library in Naperville could be on its way to becoming a local landmark, but plenty of preservationists wish it already was.

That's why the city's historic preservation commission might consider taking proactive steps to protect some of Naperville's other old and well-loved structures.

City council member Becky Anderson, a nonvoting liaison to the commission, suggested the group consider landmarking buildings such as Old Main on the campus of North Central College and Centennial Beach, a property of the Naperville Park District.

The move could protect the properties by adding a layer of city review. Owners of local landmarks must receive a certificate of appropriateness from the city before making exterior changes that would be visible from the street.

Anderson said Wednesday the intent would be to open discussions with the owners of Old Main, Centennial Beach and possibly several other historic sites in town to determine if they want to pursue landmark status.

"I think it would be better if we could identify those places and buildings that mean a lot to the history and to the community," Anderson said. "We need to make sure that we reach out to who controls or owns the building."

Naperville Park District Executive Director Ray McGury and park board President Mike Reilly both say they would be open to discussing landmark status to learn what it entails and how it would affect the beach the district has owned since 1969.

The beach was developed beginning in 1932 along the DuPage River after several prominent residents donated to buy an abandoned quarry at the edge of town the year earlier to celebrate the city's 100th anniversary.

Centennial Beach "is such a beloved place," making it ripe for landmark consideration, Anderson said.

North Central's Old Main, dedicated in 1870, is "the iconic building on that campus," she said.

Anderson suggested other buildings that could be considered for landmark status include the former city hall, two historic schools in Naperville Unit District 203 - Ellsworth and Naper elementaries - and the church and school of Ss. Peter and Paul.

She said the idea is not to landmark the building against the owner's wishes, as could happen in the case of the old Nichols Library if the city council approves the historic preservation commission's recommendation, but to involve the owners in attempts to maintain visible ties to the past.

Group seeks local landmark status for former Naperville library

Naperville reviewing push to turn historic library into local landmark

Landmark application for old Nichols next on Naperville docket

Naperville panel recommends landmark status for historic library

  Centennial Beach in Naperville is among well-known properties the city's historic preservation commission might consider for local landmark status if its owner, the Naperville Park District, likes the idea. Daniel White/ May 2011
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