Naperville Preservation wants Greene Valley farmhouse added to state’s most endangered places list

Naperville Preservation is asking Landmarks Illinois to add Oak Cottage, the farmhouse at the Greene Valley Forest Preserve, to its list of Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.

Nominations for the 2023 list were due Monday.

“From farmhouses to mansions, it is important to DuPage County to preserve its history,” said Becky Simon, president of nonprofit preservation organization. “Oak Cottage is under threat of demolition so we are nominating it to Landmarks Illinois 2023 Most Endangered list.”

The last Naperville building to make the listing, according to Simon, was the Old Nichols Library on Washington Street, which became a city landmark in 2017. It since has been adapted as part of a retail and residential complex.

The forest preserve district updated its master plan for Greene Valley in the past year, including Oak Cottage at the corner of Hobson and Greene roads in unincorporated Naperville.

The plan for the cottage is to document its structural history and condition and determine if a third-party will use it within three years.

If not, the cottage is to be demolished, something to which Naperville Preservation is opposed.

The group is dedicated to being an independent voice for preserving historic buildings and other structures in the Naperville area and wants the district to appoint an ad hoc committee to explore uses for the cottage and to conduct a limited survey of the structure.

Daniel Moon Greene and his wife, Elizabeth Venelia Trowbridge, arrived to settle along the east branch of the DuPage River in March 1835.

They were followed by William Briggs Greene in the early 1840s, who purchased 200 acres of land adjoining his Uncle Daniel’s farm. He married a woman named Harriet in 1845 and brought her to Illinois to Illinois to join him in helping develop the area.

In 1850, William Briggs Greene built the white frame farmhouse, which expanded over the years with his family. One-story wings were added to the east and the west.

Three generations of Greenes were raised in the house, and six generations have spent time living there.

The land was given to the Forest Preserve of DuPage County in the latter half of the 20th century, a nod to the family’s desire to encourage preservation for future generations.

Landmarks Illinois was founded in 1971 and is considered the state’s leading voice for historic preservation.

Annually since 1995, preservationists, community leaders and concerned citizens nominate threatened or endangered historic properties for the group’s most endangered list to draw attention to sites threatened by deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds or inappropriate development.

The goal is to bolster local advocacy efforts and build support for each property’s eventual preservation.

In addition to promoting preservation, Landmarks Illinois encourages restoration and adaptive reuse of buildings and sites.