Stories of Naperville

Apr 07

[ARCHIVED] Buckle your seat belts for Naper Settlement Takes Flight

The original item was published from April 7, 2016 4:14 PM to April 20, 2016 2:11 PM

I just love Hildy Johnson, played by Rosalind Russell, in the 1940 movie, “His Girl Friday.” As a former reporter, I enjoy watching the bustling excitement of the newsroom, Hildy’s ability to always get the “scoop” and, of course, her fabulous clothes. Did I mention that the gorgeous Cary Grant was one of her love interests?

That’s why I am so excited about our newest fundraiser, “Naper Settlement Takes Flight,” because its theme is the 1940s! Several years ago, our Curator of Research Bryan Ogg mentioned that the area around the Martin Mitchell Mansion had almost become an airport during that time period. So Nata-Leigh Preas, our Corporate Relations and Sponsorship Coordinator, took the concept and ran with it, asking the question, “What would have happened if that airport had become a reality?”

logo with background_212x124_thumb.jpg“Passengers will check in and then depart from the Meeting House and travel our 12-acre site to five destinations featuring flights of local beverages and food based on that era,” Nata-Leigh said.

So buckle up your seat belt because you will be in for first-class food and entertainment. The retro menu was developed by Chef David Miller of Chef by Request and Elements at Water Street.

“We’re seeing a trend in the culinary world of bringing back comfort foods,” Chef Miller said. “Although we’re inundated with futuristic things and technology, I think that people today still long for a connection with the past.”

One of the culinary stops will be a backyard Tiki Party, which was wildly popular in the 1940s, after servicemen returned home from World War II with stories of the South Pacific. Tailwinds Distilling Co. of Plainfield will be providing the rum for the Mai Tais, the quintessential Tiki drink, which will be served with Hawaiian-style chicken skewers and wild rice.

Jamey Beall, director of sales at Tailwinds and a pilot, said, “When I saw the flyer for the event, of course we had to be a part of it! It’s almost perfectly aligned with our brand's vintage aviation theme.”

Tailwinds Distilling CoThe company was founded in 2012 by Jamey, his brother, Toby, and Toby’s wife, Jillian. She’s also the brand ambassador who will be pouring the drinks that night. By the way, she’s the adorable 1940s-style model on the Tailwinds’ bottles.

There will be a layover between courses with entertainment that includes big band music played by North Central College graduates, a signature cocktail featuring gin from Fox River Distilling Company of Geneva, 1940s swing dancers and a live auction with auctioneer Greg Dellinger, who is donating his services. There's also a big surprise planned -- there could be a flyover of vintage planes during the event, but sshhh!!! It's weather-dependent, so we're hoping for blue skies!

Guests are invited to dress in period-appropriate clothing, so you know where I’ll be this weekend — searching out vintage clothing and resale shops for an outfit befitting Hildy Johnson!

Purchase your boarding pass for $175 at or call Nata-Leigh at (630) 420-6016. There are limited tickets available for this exclusive event! All proceeds from the event will benefit the Naperville Heritage Society, administrator of Naper Settlement, and support our education programs and historic preservation.

The flights and locations of the food and beverages will be paired with historic information about Naperville in the 1940s including:

• The Pre-Emption House Tavern will focus on the history of Kroehler Manufacturing Co. and their support of the war effort. The largest furniture manufacturer in the world stopped making furniture and started making propellers and artificial limbs and other essential gear. It will feature a mashed potato bar, reminiscent of a homey restaurant frequented by GIs, paired with a Rodney Strong red wine flight.
• The Blacksmith and Print Shops will explore the history of the auto industry and the history of newspapers in Naperville at the time. Enjoy old-fashioned drive-in food including a hamburger slider, fries and an adult root beer.
• The Naper Haight House will have information about the post-war housing boom. A chicken pot pie will be paired with a Rodney Strong white wine flight.
• Between the Daniels House and Murray Building, you’re invited to a backyard Tiki Party, which includes a Hawaiian-style chicken skewer and wild rice and is paired with a tropical drink made with Tailwinds rum.
• The Martin Mitchell Museum, formerly a working farm, opened in 1939 and throughout the ’40s, girl guides led tourists through the historic building. On the wrap-around porches of this Victorian home, enjoy Midwestern pork tacos and Solemn Oath Beer.

Sponsors include Blue Peak Tents, Chef by Request, DeEtta’s Bakery, The Dolly McCarthy Show, Elements at Water Street, Fox River Distilling Company, Naperville Magazine, Rodney Strong Wine Estates, Solemn Other Brewery and Tailwinds Distilling Company. Auction items are being provided by Arthur Murray, Blue Peak Tents, Chicagoland Aviation, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants, Cowart Chiropractic, Fogo de Chão, Kuma’s Asian Bistro, Pinot’s Palette, Rodney Strong Wine Estates and Top Golf. 

                            - Donna DeFalco, Naper Settlement