Building Memories: 22 W. Jefferson Ave.
By Joni Hirsch Blackman For The Sun February 14, 2013 6:42PM
Naperville resident Patty Jech shows Artistic Creations Owner Terry Hayes a photo of her grandkids before getting her hair cut at Hayes' shop at 22 w. Jefferson in Downtown Naperville on Wednesday, February 13, 2013. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 18, 2013 6:30AM
It might not be the smallest ground-level shop in downtown Naperville, but it must be the narrowest. Still, Terri Hayes really wanted that shop that’s barely wider than its doorway.
She would walk by the little nook, really, that is 22 W. Jefferson Ave., every morning almost 20 years ago on her way to the just-opened Starbucks. The shop always seemed to be closed when she walked by, but she was drawn to the “cute spot,” thinking it had such great potential. She decided to find out who the landlord was.
When she did, she sent him a note. Building owner Bruce Herkert remembers it well.
“One day in the mail I got a love letter from Terri Hayes. She said, ‘I walk by your building every day. I could make that so nice, and it would be so wonderful.’ I called her and said, ‘I’m very flattered, but I have a tenant.’”
Hayes remembers him telling her, “it wasn’t for rent because the guy in there had been there 18 years, and he didn’t think he was going anywhere anytime soon. I told him to keep me in mind.”
Her campaign continued, and she sent Herkert a card for every holiday that went by.
Hayes had moved to Naperville with her husband in the early 1980s, managed a couple of salons, worked at Innovations and was on her own at Salon Suites shortly after it opened in River Square in the early ’90s.
“I loved downtown, it was just in the beginning stages of the growth down here and big changes were starting — after La Sorella and Starbucks. I thought this is kind of a really cool street to be on and, when I saw this spot ... I knew at that point that’s where I wanted to be.”
So she kept the cards coming.
“The next year, she sends me a similar letter. I’ll be darned if a month later, Frank calls and says he’s leaving,” Herkert said.
Frank Anania had operated Frank’s Studio in that space from 1977 until 1995.
“When we moved to Naperville the year before, he had been a partner in salons. But he wanted something for just himself. That was available and he jumped at it — he was looking for something on that order,” said Rosetta Anania, Frank’s widow. “He worked for himself — he was very happy there and got to know all the people in town.”
Frank’s landlord was Dr. Murry Rice, an optometrist who was the very first tenant in the little spot on the east end of the building. It once was the space for the staircase to the former second floor, where Joe Henczel said he remembers running up to watch Naperville parades from the roof.
“That tiny space was my original office,” said Rice, 90, of Rancho Bernardo, Calif. “I was probably in that space three or four years. I liked it, quite frankly, it was cozy. But my practice grew too big for it.”
Rice lived in South Holland, but opened his practice in Naperville in the early 1950s when, he remembers, Naperville had 5,200 people. He had read about Naperville and thought it had great potential. After his practice grew so quickly, he bought the building from the Gregory family, who he said, had remodeled the building, divided the space and enclosed the former staircase into rentable space.
“It had been a grocery store, and Sam Rubin bought it, then Harold Moser bought it from him and tore down the second story. Then the Gregorys owned it and told me they had space for me. Later I bought it from one of the sons after he died,” said Rice, who moved to the west end of the building, where Baubles is now.
He rented the small space to two women for their travel agency, The Travel Tree. They didn’t stay too long.
“They had a fight and one left. The other one was a deadbeat — she didn’t pay her rent for several months, so I evicted her,” Rice said.
That’s when Frank Anania moved in.
“When he took that place, downtown Naperville was a ghost town. He called it Hairline Studio at first, but there was another business with that name that made plugs and they made him change the name,” said Daniela Weipert, Frank and Rosetta’s daughter. “It was a perfect place for him, he took care of all the old ladies.”
It’s a tradition Hayes was happy to continue.
“My persistence paid off,” Hayes said. “I’ll never forget, it was Aug. 17, a Sunday night. He called me, said who he was and asked if I was still interested because the guy who was in there was retiring, and he felt obligated to call me first because of my persistence!”
Hayes said “yes: before asking about rent, before finding out if she could get out of her lease where she had space at Salon Suites. Luckily, her landlord there was very flexible, and she opened Artistic Creations in August 1995.
She had a little redecorating to do first. The 500-square-foot shop was pretty brown when she took it over.
“Everything was brown — the floor, the walls, the moulding, the ceiling fans, the furniture. The half-curtain in the window at least was blue-and-white checked,” Hayes said.
She drafted her family to paint the place and enjoyed uncovering a little history — when she moved a couple of ceiling tiles she could look over the wall onto the brick wall next door and see a mural, though it was faded and hard to tell exactly what it was.
From the day she opened the shop, things went well, Hayes said.
Her clients from Salon Suites continued with her, and she inherited a few of Anania’s clients, including one woman in her 80s who still comes in every Thursday — walking to the appointment usually — and another in her 90s whose daughter drives her from Wheaton.
“Some of my clients have been with me 25 years, and I’ve got a few where I do three generations — the mom, the daughters and now their kids,” said Hayes, who has two chairs in the salon and has had a few different employees over the years.
That little space Hayes once coveted inspires longevity — Rice liked it so much, he bought the building and owned it for 30 years. Anania was there for 18 years and Hayes has already been there that long — and plans to stay put.
“The last time I renewed my lease, Bruce asked how long I’d like to renew it for, and he laughed when I said, ‘for as long as you’ll allow.’ ”
Joni Hirsch Blackman is a journalist and author of “Downtown Naperville.”
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org