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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.

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.

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.”

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