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HERstory

Meet the Naperville women making history right now! This blog highlights the stories of Naperville women nominated by the community through the HERstory campaign. 

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Aug 17

Meet Helena Wackerlin

Posted on August 17, 2020 at 11:30 AM by Denise Cartina

"Helena Wackerlin embodies the spirit of HERstory. She considered preservation of local history a worthwhile pursuit and dedicated money and family belongings towards this endeavor. Her efforts impacted generations of local children. 

Young Helena and her parents travelled by carriage from Naperville to visit her grandparents two hours away in Aurora. About halfway along, they passed a brick farmhouse. Helena fondly referred to this house as the Halfway House.  

 

The name is still used to describe the Stanley family farmhouse originally built in 1834. The Stanley’s were abolitionists. Their home may have even served as a stop on the Underground Railroad; for safety’s sake, however, people did not keep records of this, so historians cannot be sure. 

 

The Halfway House was set for demolition to make room for the Fox Valley Mall. Helena valued the Halfway House from childhood and knew it was an important piece of local history. She saved the house from demolition by paying to move it to Naper Settlement in 1975. She paid the house’s full restoration and also furnished the house with her family belongings with the stipulation that nothing be changed from how she left it. Helena was the first historical interpreter of Halfway House at the Settlement. The house and its contents are preserved exactly as Helena left them to this day.  

 

Helena also helped fund the acquisition of the Copenhagen Schoolhouse and chapel organ for Naper Settlement. Helena’s foresight and generosity allow future generations to discover the lessons of Naperville’s past."

Nominated by Anonymous