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Neighbors of DuPage

Naperville Heritage Society's grant improves environmental impact

Aug 12, 2015 12:44PM ● By Neighbors Magazines

The Paw Paw Post Office, located on the grounds of Naper Settlement, an outdoor history museum in Naperville, was built in 1833 and is the oldest frame house in Naperville.

The Naperville Heritage Society, administrator of Naper Settlement, the only nationally accredited outdoor history museum in Illinois, is among the recipients of the National Endowment for the Humanities 2015 Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections competitive grant program. The museum has been awarded a $50,000 grant, which will enable Naper Settlement’s staff, along with the combined expertise of the museum’s preservation team, conservation consultants and an architectural engineer, to develop a comprehensive plan to address environmental issues that pose serious threats to the museum’s historical buildings and collections.

Sally Pentecost, Chair, Naperville Heritage Society, said, “The Naperville Heritage Society is so pleased to receive this competitive NEH grant that underscores the national importance of the historic buildings and collections at Naper Settlement. Appropriate preservation is an essential element in telling our stories respectfully. By addressing a plan to manage the environmental conditions in the museum’s buildings, we can better preserve this community’s heritage and that of the American experience for future generations to come.”

Naper Settlement has the oldest frame home in Naperville, the Paw Paw Post Office, which was built in 1833, and the oldest church in DuPage County -- the Meeting House, which was built in 1841. Other historic homes were saved from possible demolition and moved from locations throughout Naperville including the historic Century Memorial Chapel, which was built in 1864 and is used for weddings, performances and other special services.

In order to maintain the beauty and integrity of the buildings and the material culture they house, the project’s three-fold process will include an evaluation of the optimization of the existing climate control systems in the historic structures; investigation of prior building analyses, along with addressing the need for the creation of a centrally-controlled building system network to assist with effective building and collections environmental management.

The project’s outcome will be a preservation plan that will support the Naperville Heritage Society in its mission to collect, document and preserve the history of Naperville, Illinois’ past and will be a sustainable, comprehensive strategy for reducing air and water infiltration and maintaining appropriate climate control in 19 of the 30 historic buildings and structures. The institution uses its preserved historical buildings and collections at Naper Settlement to fulfill its mission through research, exhibitions, school and public programs.

Macarena Tamayo-Calabrese, President and CEO, Naperville Heritage Society and Naper Settlement, said, “Naper Settlement is thrilled to receive this much-needed support to assess the environmental conditions in our historic buildings, environments that are key to the long-term preservation of the artifacts they exhibit.”

“The grant projects announced today represent the very best of humanities scholarship and programming,” said NEH Chairman William Adams. “NEH is proud to support programs that illuminate the great ideas and events of our past, broaden access to our nation’s many cultural resources, and open up for us new ways of understanding the world in which we live.”

 The Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grants help cultural institutions meet the complex challenge of preserving large and diverse holdings of humanities materials for future generations by supporting preventive conservation measures to prolong the useful life of collections.