Naper Notes Blog

Naper Settlement's blog will feature special events, historical happenings and interesting tidbits about Naperville's only history museum.

Jul 30

Threshing About – A Blog about a Thresher

Posted on July 30, 2019 at 1:15 PM by NS Marketing

July 25, 2019 entry

The Threshing About blog is devoted to the conservation progress of our Wood Bros. threshing machine.  The conservation work is being funded in part by a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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Nov 17

Local collectors, Gary and Ginger Fry, help with holiday exhibit

Posted on November 17, 2017 at 4:09 PM by Emma Vodick

Pictured left to right: Cara Grandys, Steven Daniel, Jim Baer and Ginger and Gary Fry.

This holiday season, Naper Settlement's curatorial team created the upcoming holiday-themed, post-World War II exhibit, “Home for the Holidays: Christmas in the Fabulous 1950s,” on view now till Dec. 24. With the help of some amazing collectors, visitors will need to keep an eye out for a few remarkable items on loan from Naperville residents and local collectors, Gary and Ginger Fry.

The Frys have contributed to Naper Settlement’s holiday exhibits for the past two years, and began collecting antique items when they got married 48 years ago. Ginger says they were so in love with antiques they registered their wedding with an antique dealer for crystal wine and water goblets, rather than with a department store.

Gary owned the Antiques on Jefferson in Naperville for 8 years, and it was there the Frys saw a feather tree decorated with tiny German ornaments. They purchased the tree, and soon after became interested in learning more about antique Christmas items.

Example of a feather tree from last year's Merry & Bright Exhibit

After they retired, the Frys joined the Golden Glow of Christmas Past, a non-profit organization focusing on education and history of antique and vintage Christmas items, which was founded by a Christmas light collector from Chicago. The Frys reached out to other members of the organization to help with Naper Settlement’s holiday exhibit who had Christmas items from the 1950s.

Although the Frys still add to their early antique collections if they stumble upon something unusual, Ginger says antique Christmas items are their most recent love. They first began collecting glass ornaments, but gradually began adding ceramic and china pieces, that include candy containers, Santa figures, snowmen and angels.

Glass Ornaments_0088.JPG“The great thing about collecting Christmas things is that they can be small and since they aren’t displayed year-round, they don’t need a permanent cabinet or shelf,” said Ginger. “We pack them away after Christmas and when we bring them out in October or November it’s like finding a new treasure.
We often reminisce about when and where we found a particular prize.” 

When asked what kind of advice Ginger would give to someone who wants to start collecting antiques, she recommends buying items "that you love and that will make you smile." Ginger says collecting is also a great social activity.

“Getting out and talking to the sellers and other collectors n
ot only provides us with something to do, but it also is a wonderful place to learn something new,” said Ginger. “Christmas can be a stressful time, but to us decorating our home, having friends visit and visiting their homes to see their displays brings us much pleasure.”  

DSC_0060_LR.jpgGinger worked as a teacher and always had a love for children’s books, so some of her favorite Christmas books from the 1950s will be on display. The Frys have also loaned a variety of miniature stockings and helped to recreate a typical 1950s living room with their stainless steel Christmas tree complete with a revolving color wheel.

Naper Settlement’s holiday exhibit, Home for the “Holidays: Christmas in the Fabulous 1950s,” will be from Nov. 14 to Dec. 24 and will be open during winter museum hours. Admission during Christkindlmarket is free. Underwritten by Ronald & Claudia Stenger. Visit our website or call (630) 420-6010 for more information.

Oct 16

Keller's Farmstand - Growing in Naperville since 1852

Posted on October 16, 2017 at 9:55 AM by Ben Nau


In Naper Settlement’s journey to preserve the city’s rich agricultural history and explore the importance of locally-sourced produce, the Kellers stood out as an established farming family that has been in Naperville since 1852 and in the past 20 years have created three very successful farmstands in Naperville, Plainfield and Oswego, known as Keller’s Farmstand.

The Keller’s originated in Bavaria, Germany and purchased land along River Road on the north side of Naperville. During hard times, the first Frank Keller sold the farm and began work at The Naperville Bank, but after some time returned to farming and bought a new farm along Ogden Ave. It was used primarily as a dairy operation, but the farm also had a range of crops including apples, grapes, raspberries and potatoes. During the Great Depression, the Keller’s put up a table alongside Ogden Ave. which was a tremendous success.


“My grandfather always said that the raspberries and blackberries paid the bills during the Great Depression,” said Frank Keller IV. “The specialty crops have always been an important part of the farm.”

In 1966, Frank Keller Jr. sold the Ogden Avenue farm and purchased a larger farm on 95th Street (now named Knoch Knolls Road). Keller Jr. then retired from farming, allowing his two sons, Frank III and Ray, to raise corn, soybeans, oats, hay and cattle. The dairying was discontinued.

After Frank III’s son, Frank Keller IV, graduated college, he decided to join the Peace Corps. He ended up working with farmers in southern Africa teaching them how to grow vegetables.

“I figured if I was teaching agriculture over there, I should probably do it myself,” said Keller IV. “Once I returned, I rented about 5 acres from my dad and uncle and started the farmstand on the home farm.”

In 1991, the first Keller’s Farmstand opened along 95th Street and shortly after the second location opened on their Plainfield farm. After a four-lane highway was planned to cut through the Keller’s Naperville farm, the family decided to acquire land in Oswego to make up for the loss. In 2008, the Keller’s decided to open their third farmstand in Oswego. This is where Keller IV started to grow specialty crops such as sweet corn, pumpkins and apples.


Frank Keller IV thinks it’s incredibly important to educate community members on Naperville’s agricultural history. “When someone moves to Naperville they think ‘Wow, the layout of Naperville is great, there’s plenty of stores and businesses.’ But they don’t know that there were a lot of people spending their entire lives getting Naperville to what it is now, and a big part of that was the farm community,” said Keller. “There are a lot of families still around that were very instrumental. Pushing for good schools, running the city, etc.”

Keller’s Farmstand also welcomes schools to educate the students on farming and show them how great the United States agricultural system is.

“From my experience in the Peace Corps, you see that food is the number one issue for everything,” said Keller. “However, [in the United States] it’s mostly an afterthought, because agriculture is just so good here…. People don’t have to think about where their food comes from.”

Although there’s been plenty of hard days on the farm and bad weather throughout his career, Keller loves what he does. “Thankfully there’s many days where you love being on your own and working outside. I’ve enjoyed working with my family and my great grandfather. Our family is close enough to enjoy Naperville, but we are far enough away to feel like we’re in rural Illinois.”

For more information on the Keller Farmstands, visit their website at

If you’d like to learn more about Naper Settlement’s Agricultural Interpretive Center and its goal to preserve the region’s agricultural history, visit our website at