Naperville's Agricultural Roots Museum to Illustrate City's Farming History
Pyke, Marni, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Marni Pyke Daily Herald Staff Writer
There's a little oasis of farming history hidden in the midst of the suburban sprawl of south Naperville.
The Will County Forest Preserve District is eager to let everyone in on the secret.
Just past the corner of Book Road and 111th Street is a gravel road and a monument sign that reads "Riverview Farmstead."
The property is the former Clow family farm, which the district intends to restore as a living museum of rural life.
Despite the traffic and construction on 111th Street and the cluster of rooftops from a nearby subdivision, it's still possible to imagine what it was like 100 years ago on the farm.
Cicadas fill the air with noise and monarch butterflies alight on prairie plants in a field bordered by the west branch of the DuPage River. A yellowed limestone house with an inviting porch basks in the sunlight.
"Imagine the Clow family sitting out there," district spokesman Bruce Hodgdon said during a visit to the site. "It must have been beautiful when it was new."
Robert Clow left Scotland for America with his nine children in 1837. The family stayed in New York for some time but settled in Wheatland Township in the 1840s, buying land for $1.25 an acre.
The Clows eventually established a thriving farm and became staples in the young Naperville community.
Starting in 2005, the district is expected to send out bids for improvements at the farmstead. It should open to the public in 2006.
The project entails renovating the exterior of the historical buildings on the property, including the limestone house, a massive barn and a wooden "settlement" house, the first structure built by the Clows.
The inside of the buildings will not be open to the public, but interpretive signs will lead people around the site and explain what it was like to operate a farm in the 1800s.
Hodgdon detailed new plans by the forest preserve to construct additional features there, including a smokehouse, well house, animal pens, a threshing barn and period fencing. …