Naperville Heritage Film Collection

These films about Naperville's history can be viewed in their entirety online, for free. Many of these films were made by Naperville Community Television 17, but several were made by members of the community. Thank you to the filmmakers who allowed us to share their stories with the community!

Black Acre

The Nadelhoffer farm in Lisle Township, DuPage County, was purchased by John Nadelhoffer in 1873, and sold to housing developers in 1972 because of high real estate taxes and a suburban housing boom. The farm housed prize-winning dairy cows, horses, and fields of alfalfa, clover, and hay. The great grandsons of John Nadelhoffer, Herb and Carleton, narrate a story of how the rural way of life has gradually disappeared amid subdivisions and shopping malls. Interviews with farmers Junie Landorf, Paul Miller, and Katherine Finkbeiner round out the story.
A Nadelhoffer-Wehrli production, narrated by Herb and Carleton Nadelhoffer.

Can You Dig It? The Dirt on Joe Naper

Naperville founder Joe Naper’s homestead was the recent site of an archaeological dig to discover artifacts and historic features from the nineteenth century way of life in Naperville. Staff members of the Naperville Heritage Society are interviewed about the methodology of the dig and their discoveries.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

Community Building on the Great Frontier

The first feature documentary produced about Naperville’s founder sheds light on Joseph Naper the man: his vision, struggles and triumphs; and how he helped build the community we know today. Sea Captain Joseph Naper brought thirteen families to Naperville in 1831, platted the land, was instrumental in carving out DuPage County from Cook County in 1839, and served as the first president of the Village of Naperville in 1857.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

Downtown Naperville: Heart of a Community

Downtown Naperville from earliest times formed the nucleus of the city with its shops and restaurants but had to revitalize itself with the coming of malls and chain stores in the area. Downtown business owners and the City partnered to beautify downtown and build the Riverwalk. Many pictures of old time businesses and interviews with long-time residents illustrate this evolution.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

Farmers, Corn, Cows & Hazy Memories

Herb Nadelhoffer reflects on the role corn and farming had on his childhood and the history of DuPage County, while interviewing several friends and neighbors about farm life.
This film was created by Herb Nadelhoffer.

A Hallmark of Heritage

This film documents the history of the Naperville Heritage Society, including the moving of Century Chapel, the story of the Weed Ladies, and the introduction of its first employee, Peggy Frank. Interviews with founding members, past and present board members and presidents, as well as Naper Settlement staff members and Executive Director Peggy Frank, along with rare historical images, bring the story to life.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

The Man Behind the Ink: Dick Locher

The remarkable career of Dick Locher has been captured in NCTV17's "Naperville Recollections" series. Locher's career began as a child when his father encouraged him to draw and included more than four decades of political cardoons for the Chicago Tribune, including one that earned him a Pulitzer Prize. The documentary chronicles how Dick Locher came to be an editorial cartoonist in 1953 and spans his illustrious career.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

Moments in Time: The Naperville Century Walk

The Century Walk was created in 1996 as a public art initiative to celebrate Naperville’s history through murals, mosaics and sculptures placed throughout downtown. Through interviews with founder Brand Bobosky, as well as art enthusiasts in the community, viewers will learn about how the pieces were chosen, funded and created, as well as how they have inspired the community.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

The Naperville Fire Department: 125 Years of Service

This film displays an extensive archive of pictures depicting fire footage, equipment obtained since the first Joe Naper Pumper, Fire Chiefs, fire stations, rescue operations, memorials to Naperville firemen and Naperville firefighters interacting with the community.
This film was created by the Naperville Fire Department.

The Naperville Riverwalk: The First 25 Years

The Naperville Riverwalk, a permanent memorial from the city's Sesquicentennial in 1981, is considered by many as the centerpiece of the community. In its early years the DuPage River was used to power mills and for swimming and ice skating. By the 1970s it became polluted by industrial waste. To revitalize the downtown area, the Riverwalk has become a reality through contributions from businesses, organizations and volunteers and has since expanded from the center of the city. This film offers commentary from the original designers and architects, city mayors, and members of the Riverwalk Foundation.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

The Naperville Riverwalk: Flowing Through The Hearts of Naperville

Written, directed and produced by Mary Lou Wehrli for Riverwalk 2000, Ed Channell and Glen Ekey, co-chairmen, on behalf of the Riverwalk Commission, George Pradel, Mayor, Cliff Preston, Chairman. Begun in 1981 by volunteers for Naperville's Sesquicentennial celebration, the finished Riverwalk construction project along the winding DuPage River in the heart of downtown is the pride of the community, Sections of the video include: Earth's legacy -- 1931 Centennial, Naperville's 100th birthday -- Transition [Sesquicentennial] -- Today [Riverwalk 2000] -- Tomorrow [Century Walk].
This film was created by Mary Lou Wehrli.

Naperville’s 150th Birthday: Sesquicentennial Celebration 1981

Produced by Mary Lou Wehrli, this film captures the main events and principal participants of the Naperville Sesquicentennial celebration.
This film was created by Mary Lou Wehrli.

The Oliver Julian Kendall Story

Tribute to a local hero of World War I. Includes history of Judd Kendall's family and of Naperville as well as events of World War I.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

One In A Million: The Cock Robin and Prince Castles Story

In 1931, Walter Fredenhagen and his boyhood friend Earl Prince opened the first of five Prince Castle Ice Cream shops in Naperville, IL. Their partnership was sealed with a handshake and would lead to many ice cream innovations such as the multi-mixer shake machine, see-through ice cream containers and the square ice cream scoop.Businessman Ray Kroc later entered the scene and eventually would become the head of sales operations for the Cock Robin and Prince Castles organization. On behalf of the organization Kroc was selling the innovative multi-mixer shake machine to the McDonald brothers. In 1954 Kroc would go on to purchase the small-scale McDonalds Corporation, for the sum of 2.7 million dollars. This documentary is the story of a man, his dreams and the simple pleasure of ice cream. One in a Million: The Cock Robin and Prince Castles Story was awarded the Crystal Communicator Award of Excellence by the National Communicator Awards in 2005.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

A Role of Their Own

Presents a history of seven women who contributed to the evolution of Naperville from a town to a community.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.

Thank You For Your Cooperation

Produced by Mary Lou Wehrli, this film shows how Centennial Beach has evolved from a limestone quarry. Vintage clips from the Win G. Knoch Film Archives, narration and contemporary interviews trace the evolution of one of Naperville's downtown quarries from early stone mining to local swimming hole to one of the top-rated swimming facilities in the nation.
This film was created by Mary Lou Wehrli.

Two Brothers, One Beer and the American Dream

History of the Stenger family who came to Naperville, Illinois to establish the Stenger Brewery in the 1840s.
This film was created by Naperville Community Television, Channel 17.