Building Memories: 105 & 107 W. Jefferson Ave.
By Joni Hirsch Blackman For The Sun March 14, 2013 3:00PM
Owners Ken and Nancy Ross stand infront of their building at 105/107 W. Jefferson in Naperville on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Sometime after 1900 — Two-story brick building built, 107 W. Jefferson *
Tansey family made candy there *
Werner’s Bakery *
1926 — 1936 The Naperville Bakery
1937 — 1946 Ross’s Home Bakery
1947 — converted to a restaurant
1948 — Heydon Snack Bar
1949, 1950 — Shimp Snack Bar
1951 to 1955 or 56 — Fatout’s Koffee Kup, owned by Fran & Otto Vachta *
After divided into two shops:
105 W. Jefferson (east side)
1957-59 or later: Malek Jewelry Store
Blue Skies Records & Tapes
Photo shop #
1994 — The Irish Way
107 W. Jefferson (west side)
December 1956 to 1961 or 62 — Dr. Donald Carducci’s medical office
1988 — Dress shop (by appointment only)
Lulu & Me
2007 — SaraBoo Creek
Sources: Starred items are
from Geneveive Towsley’s columns; # items are from Ken Ross;
the rest are from old Naperville phone directories, photos and
Compiled by Joni H. Blackman
Updated: April 18, 2013 6:08AM
Three stories from one century-old downtown Naperville building make a pretty good argument that some things truly are “meant to be.”
It started with Ken and Nancy Ross’s 1988 purchase of 105 and 107 W. Jefferson Ave. Ken’s grandparents, Alfred and Minnie Ross, had owned the building from 1927 until 1956. They ran Ross’s Home Bakery in the entire space and lived above the store.
At some point, the building was divided in two and had various owners. In 1988, Earl Aronson owned the building, and the Rosses thought they’d like to get the buildings back into the family.
Ken told a local broker he’d like to know if the building ever went on the market. A mere six months later, it — along with the building at the corner next door — did. Apparently the building was meant to have a Ross on the title.
The Irish Way
Not long afterward, in 1994, Anne Hickey was looking for a place to open an Irish shop in Naperville. She saw a “for lease” sign at 105 W. Jefferson and inquired. Like that, she had the store she’d hoped for.
But she had to find a name. She put a bunch of names on small pieces of paper and put them in a box to draw one. The first one that came out was “The Irish Way.” Just to make sure “that really was the name,” Anne did it again. And again.
“I drew three times and got the same name all three times. I figured, it’s really the name!”
Anne, a native of County Sligo in Ireland, moved to the U.S. in the 1950s and settled in Chicago, where she worked in retail. When she came to Naperville, it just felt right.
“It reminded me of my homeland — the people are so friendly, and the shops were smaller, not like the city. It was just like a town in Ireland.”
When the shop opened, that section of Jefferson looked very different than it does today, with CeeBees grocery store — not Eddie Bauer, Ann Taylor and the Apple Store — across the street.
Colleen Hickey-Conway, remembers her mom was very hopeful about the shop and its future, so she isn’t surprised it will soon celebrate its 20th anniversary.
“People are so kind and nice — especially now for St. Patrick’s Day when everyone wants a little bit of Irish to celebrate,” Hickey-Conway said.
The shop offers “everything Irish,” including Waterford Crystal, Irish jewelry, Belleek china, Irish sweaters and caps. Though started by Anne, the shop is now a family business, with all six Hickey kids each taking a role in it, Hickey-Conway said.
Those “kids” include Ret. Army Col. James Hickey, who Hickey-Conway proudly said organized the capture of Saddam Hussein on Dec. 13, 2003.
According to a Boston Globe story at the time: “He was the second of six children born to Irish immigrant parents, and he was the only one who came out of the womb wearing combat gear,” said Maureen Moran of Naperville, Hickey’s sister.
Well, of course, camouflage clothing is green, right?
A few years after that historic event brought reporters to the front doors of The Irish Way, one of Cindy Crawford’s (not that Cindy Crawford) employees from her Crest Hill gift shop gave her a call.
“She was in downtown Naperville and noticed the ‘for rent’ sign on the store said to me, ‘you know where this is?’ I said, ‘what’s your point?’ I wasn’t planning on expanding or anything! But my mom lives in Naperville, and I always spend a lot of time there and love it, so I went and looked at the space.”
As she browsed around the shop that occupied the space at the time, “Lulu & Me,” she fell in love with the 600 square feet.
“It’s so small, it would be prohibitive for a lot of stores — it has no back room or anything,” Crawford said. “What you see is what it is, other than a teeny bathroom that we use as a bathroom/storage closet. You have to be a free spirit and flexible to work there; we have no break room! But I started my business selling at shows, so I’m used to doing things out of a 10-foot booth.”
SaraBoo Creek, named after Crawford’s children Sara and Patrick (nickname: Boo) opened in Naperville in 2007 and specializes in custom signs and frames. The century-old building suits the vintage feel of the shop’s decor.
“It’s just perfect for us — I feel like we’re in the center of the universe here, like it’s the sweet spot in Naperville,” she said. “It’s been great here; Naperville has been very good to us.”
Apparently it was meant to be.
Joni Hirsch Blackman is a journalist and author of “Downtown Naperville.” Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there a doctor here?
A few days before Dr. Donald Carducci moved in to his new office at 107 W. Jefferson Ave. at the end of 1956, he turned a corner driving there and his 3-month-old son, Matthew, in the front seat with his brother Joe, fell out.
“Don was so excited, he jumped out of the car to get him, but the car was still moving, so when he realized that, he jumped back in the car, and someone stopped and picked up Matthew. The man said, ‘you’ve got to take him to the doctor, he just fell out of your car!’ My husband never told the man he was the doctor!” Jacquie Carducci said.
“My husband just ran down there, and the kids were in their pajamas. He was giving me a break. I’m not sure why the door opened. Joe might have tried to open it! After that, they rode in the back seat, and we took the inside handles out!”
The Carduccis had just moved to Naperville because Jacquie’s sister lived here. She told Donald that Edward Hospital had just converted from a TB sanitarium to a full-service hospital with opportunities for family practice physicians.
Dr. Carducci’s new office consisted of an exam room, a bathroom (where he tested specimens) and a small waiting room.
“Sometimes people waited on the front stoop — it was like an extension of the waiting room, the waiting room was so small,” said Matthew Carducci, who survived the car fall to become a Naperville doctor himself. “Malek Jewelry was in the other half of the building.”
The Fire Department was a couple of doors to the west, and the Police Department was across the street, so many of Carducci’s first patients came from there.
“They took a liking to him and sent him a lot of patients,” Jacquie said.
Though Carducci moved to 10 W. Martin after about five or six years on Jefferson — his practice flourished and he needed more room — he was always fond of that first place, where artist Les Schrader had painted Carducci’s name on the window.
“Don would go have dinner on the corner — Clark’s and then Fidler’s — and meet the pharmacist two nights a week when he had office hours,” Jacquie said. “He always had nice feelings about that first place.”
Carducci also went on five to 10 house calls a day. His office phone had an extension at the couple’s home on Main Street, so Jacquie could answer when he was out of the office.
The mother of nine children said with a laugh: “Many times, police came to the house to tell me my phone was off the hook, and patients couldn’t get a hold of the doctor!”
— Joni Hirsch-Blackman