Halfway House and Farm Cellar - 1900s

Everyone had to work hard on Naperville's family farms.

From its early days, Naperville was a community of family-run farms. Changes in farming technology like the introduction of gasoline-powered tractors and electric milking machines improved the efficiency of Naperville's farmers in the early 1900s. But life on the farm still relied on horsepower and human labor. Every member of the household was expected to help the farm succeed by performing chores, including children.

Farmers' lives were guided by the seasons. They planted in the spring, tended crops in the summer, harvested in the fall and mended tools and equipment in the winter. Farmers' children helped take care of the horses, pigs, cattle, sheep and other livestock. A farmwife's day revolved around her chicken coop, vegetable garden and kitchen. She spent hours each day preparing food for her family and their hired help, including canning and preserving summer fruits and vegetables for the long winter months.

The Stanley family built this home in Aurora in 1843. Helena Zentmyer Wackerlin gave it its nickname "Halfway House," based on her childhood memory of the house as the halfway point of the two hour carriage ride between her family's home in Naperville and her grandparents' home in Aurora. The house was moved to Naper Settlement from Aurora Avenue (west of Route 59) in 1975.

Farm Cellar

A cellar safely preserves a farm family's food through the seasons.

Before the inventions of refrigerators, farm families used cellars to store their fruits and vegetables, home-canned goods, dairy products and meat through cold winters and hot summers. A cellar's underground construction retained heat in the winter to prevent freezing and remained cool in the summer to avoid spoilage. Farmwives quickly removed rotten food from cellars to prevent the spread of decay because - as the saying goes - "one bad apple spoils the whole barrel."

Volunteers & Donations

With deep appreciation, we acknowledge the generous volunteers and donors who provided the necessary resources between 1975 and 1981 that made the relocation and restoration of these farm structures a reality. Their commitment and partnership in preserving these buildings continues to show the important part agriculture played in our heritage.

Major Benefactor

Helena Zentmyer Wackerlin

Building Donors for Halfway House

  • Urban Investment and Development Co.
  • Sear, Roebuck and Co.
  • Marshall Field and Co.
  • Virgil Cook and Son, Inc.

Building Donors for the Windmill and Summer Kitchen

Oscar W. and Elsie M. Strid

Building Donors for the Smoke House

Max and Ceal Gartner

Building Donor for the Barn

Dr. William Kopperud

Donors of Services and Supplies

  • Fred and Mary Dundas
  • Mr. and Mrs. James A. Wasson
  • Mike Smith
  • Mr. and Mrs. Wade Varvel
  • Mr. and Mrs. Donald F. Scholtes
  • City of Naperville Electric Department
  • Naperville Heritage Society
  • Lenert's Plumbing
  • Rust Oleum Corporation

Restoration Volunteers

  • Al Harris, Halfway House Chairman
  • Mike Garlich, Windmill Chairman
  • Eagle Scouts David Smith and Howard Stearns

Volunteers who contributed significant time on a regular basis to this project:

Warren Ashley, John Bassett, Ralph Beidelman, Pat Benton, Doris Black, Steve Briggs, Bill Buchinger, Ginny Bursh, Tom Bursh, Carl Cable, Elv Carlson, Don Cervenka, Jim Christopher, Bonnie Cosyns, Howie Cosyns, Walter Eikelberger, Tom Finnegan, Jack Frank, Ruth Gamertsfelder, Max Harbach, John Hieronymus, Ed Hollowed, Harold Huth, Mike Karpa, Royal Lauring, Harold Luce, Joan Luce, Robbie Martins, Karen McGilvery, Dick Moll, Roger Olson, Jim Pannell, Howard Penrose, Tom Peyton, Mary Kay Pfister, Jack Powell, Judy Powell, Chuck Price, Al Rentschler, Dan Rentschler, Dan Rinkelstein, Carl Schafer, Les Schrader, Earl Schultz, Mike Walker, Duane Wilson, Fran Wilson and Norris Yonker