Photo Gallery: The Making of the Naper Homestead

learn more at RuthByLakeAndPrairie.comBring your copy of the book to the Naper Homestead, sit at one of the benches and read the story of the pioneers' journey.

The last chapter, The DuPage River at Last, occurs on this very spot!

Here you'll find - chronicled in pictures and video clips - the steps in making the Naper Homestead park a reality.

Of course, not shown here are the many hours of planning and organizing performed by a partnership of civic, cultural and private groups before and during the actual construction that you see in pictures below.

A key individual in particular, Bryan Ogg, whose picture can be found here, was the driving force in facilitating the creation of the park and statue. Kate, in researching her book on the homesteading voyage, spent many hours in the Naper Settlement library where Bryan curates, and she acknowledged him in her book for his encouragement and expertise.

Enjoy the pictures and video. When you have ocassion to do so, visit the Naper Homestead park and walk among its history. 

The Day of the Groundbreaking


July 6, 2011: The warm sunny day's festivities began with speeches from numerous dignitaries, beginning with Mayor Pradel. Senator Dillard spoke to us about his special affinity to history. His father was a history professor. Incidently, he wrote Kate a very nice note after having read "Ruth By Lake and Prairie" to his daughters.

Naperville Mayor George Pradel

Naperville City Manager Doug Krieger

Illinois State Senator Kirk Dillard

Homestead Committee Chair Dave Kelsch


Dignitaries at the Groundbreaking

Kate Gingold, Bettye Werhli and Mayor Pradel hamming it up



If you travelled along Jefferson Avenue a few blocks west of downtown Naperville from July through October of 2011, you saw a construction site surrounded by cyclone fence.

What you saw being created was the Naper Homestead, a new park being built by the city to remember our founding family, Joseph and Almeda Naper, at the very spot where they settled in July of 1831.

Foundations Run Deep

Initial Marking

South End of Park

Forms and Walkway Pavers

Pouring the Pump Wall

New Sidewalk to the Park



Ribbon Cutting

November 2, 2011 - The ribbon cutting ceremony was held at 3pm. It was a beautiful autumn day with lots of sunshine, perfect for wandering through the park.


Joseph Standing Bear Schranz performs a blessing ritual...

... and leads us in a prayer.

Well-attended Ribbon Cutting

Mayor Pradel

The Mayor chats with Abe Lincoln

NHS CEO Peggy Frank

NHS Chair Chris Birck

State Rep Michael Connelly

Hitchcock Design's Craig Farnsworth

Copenhaver Construction's Ken Copenhaver


The New Park

Here are some of the features of the new park.  But don't take our word for it! Come visit!  Get directions from Google Maps.


Beautiful, Explanatory Signage

To have signs for the public to see during the ribbon cutting, workers placed these temporary signs at each of the points of interest in the park. They have since been replaced with the permanent versions. 

The signs enrich your experience with wonderful bits of history and a little trivia too.

North End

The view from the corner of Jefferson and Mill Streets, welcomes you to the park from the city.

Hand Pump

This gives our children an understanding of life in the early days, before running water (or bathrooms!) in the home.



In this clever effect to keep the park open yet instruct on the location of original structures on the property, the designers marked the house walls with these limestone blocks. Stroll through the home of our founding family!


Tight Quarters

These stones mark the borders of the Naper's first log house. The entire family lived within these walls, and often guests as well.


 Naper's View

The new park opens from the North side, but imagine Joseph looking up the hill from the saw mill at the river to see his home and his family.



A Glimpse of the Future... A New Statue!

artist rendering of Joe Naper, by Dick LocherAt the ribbon cutting, Peggy Frank announced a fundraising initiative: a larger-than-life statue of Joseph Naper pointing the way into his town from the northwest corner of the new Homestead. 

Peggy unveiled a picture created by Dick Locher, famous artist of the Dick Tracy comic strips. In it, Joe Naper with his platts and his books, welcomes people into town.

If you look closely at the photo of the picture on its easil you'll notice a reflection. It's of the artist himself, who was standing next to the eisel as the photo was taken!


Installing the Statue

August 9, 2013: A beautiful sunny day for a parade! One float, a flatbed trailer carrying the new statue of Joseph Naper, made its way into town from the north, not far off the original trail the Napers traveled in 1831. The statue arrived at 9:45am and for the next 4 hours the city crew drilled and aligned and hoisted until Mr. Naper was set.  


A two-piece bronze statue arrives.

Surveying the survey equipment.

Hoisting Joe off the flatbed.


A bronze plate decorates the statue maker's truck.

Bryan Ogg talks to Dick Locher and Peggy Frank.

City crew sets up a boring tool to drill out 2" holes.


This is the core that's drilled out. 4 of them were dug.

Foot-long 1.5" wide screws in Joe's shoes will form the anchor.


Crew fills hole with super-grade epoxy...

... then lower the posts into the holes.


The statue maker Jeff Adams with his son and wife.

Kate with Dick Locher, Dick Tracy artist and Joe Naper statue designer.


The statue now waits under wraps until the dedication on August 23. We look forward to seeing you there.


Joseph Naper Statue Dedication

Audience anticipating the unveiling

Mike Krol quotes "Ruth" in speech
The Statue is Unveiled Ruth By Lake And Prairie author Kate Gingold with husband Don