Building Memories: 124 W. Water St.

124 W. Water St. (shown right) was home to Dave's Floral Touch from 1985-2006. The house has been empty for several years and is slated to be torn down to make way for the future Water Street development.  |  Submitted
The house at 124 W. Water St. has found itself in the way of Naperville’s growth more than once. The former home of Dave’s Floral Touch has been on Water Street since 1984, but it wasn’t constructed there. It began at 220 W. Jefferson, where city officials in the early 1980s decided the new library should be built. |  File photo
Cindy and Don Kaminky, the owners. | Submitted
The house at 124 W. Water St. just keeps ending up in the way of Naperville’s growth.  |  Submitted

The house at 124 W. Water St. just keeps ending up in the way of Naperville’s growth.

The former home of Dave’s Floral Touch has been on Water Street since 1984, but it wasn’t constructed there. It began at 220 W. Jefferson, where city officials in the early 1980s decided the new library should be built.

At the time, Cindy Kaminky had been operating her floral business since 1977 in the American Legion building at 10 W. Chicago Ave. She was ready to stop renting, so she looked at property for six months.

“Then my husband, Don, and I heard the city was auctioning off four buildings that were where Nichols Library is now,” she said. “Someone told us there was a building that might be perfect for us, so we went over and looked in the windows the night before the auction, because we couldn’t get in.”

Cindy thought the house, then owned by Louise Springborn, would make a darling flower shop. The Kaminkys withdrew some cash from their bank, anticipating what they’d need for the auction Saturday.

“The person we ended up bidding against didn’t think there would be any other bidders because we hadn’t shown any interest — we had just found out about the house,” she said. “We surprised him and outbid him because it was back in the day that banks were closed on Saturday, and he couldn’t get any more cash. We had more cash!”

That bidder, who Cindy remembers wanted to turn the house into an apartment building, had plans to move it to Jackson Avenue. The zoning was ready and everything was in place.

“Then here’s this silly lady,” Cindy said with a laugh. “We were so excited, but we had to have it moved in a short amount of time. There was a house moving company there at the auction, and they asked if we wanted them to move it so we said, ‘sure!’”

The Kaminkys weren’t even sure where they would move the house at first, but apparently they were just meant to move that house to Water Street.

“I honest to God don’t know how it happened,” she said.

“We found a lot on Water Street and had to take the little house down. That property had been for sale, and we sort of snuck in the back door on that one too — someone else was bidding on it, and we bought it.”

Meant to be

A photo of the move was published on page 1 of the Aug. 24, 1984, Naperville Sun. Springborn, then almost 87 years old, walked along with the Kaminkys as the house was moved, Cindy said. (Springborn and her husband, Arthur, lived in that house at least since 1940, according to census records. Arthur died in 1955 and Louise in 1986.)

The upstairs was used for floral design and had the only bathroom. The first floor was the sales floor, and the house also has a basement. Cindy was still running her business on Chicago Avenue at the time of the move, but was able to supervise the interior remodeling. She spent almost as much time walking over to the old City Hall at 175 W. Jackson Ave. to hurry up the paperwork.

“I’d say, ‘What do I have to do to get this thing moving? I don’t have a lot of time,’” she said. “Then I’d walk whatever paperwork over to the right department. Naperville was just starting to boom, and they were busy over there, but I didn’t have time to have my project stalled while they contemplated what they needed.”

The “charming” house turned out exactly as they hoped, and they got their occupancy permit on Feb. 1, 1985.

“We left enough of the interior to give it the feel of walking into an old house,” she said. “We had to do a lot more than we had anticipated, but ignorance is bliss — you have no idea what you are getting into or you wouldn’t get into it!”

In the beginning

Dave’s Floral Touch remained at that location for 21 years. The business started in 1950 when Dave Hackerson opened Dave’s Flower Shop at 10 W. Chicago Ave., Cindy said. He sold it in 1973 to his bookkeeper, Millie Hosler.

The next year Cindy got her horticulture degree from Kishwaukee College and started a business in her home, which she called “The Floral Touch.”

“At that time, they called people like me ‘Basement Bettys,’” she said. “I assumed I’d do that 10 years while my kids were little. I didn’t intend to buy Millie’s business.”

But one day Cindy needed to borrow something and stopped by the flower shop. She told Millie she admired her shop, and if she ever wanted to sell it, to let her know.

“She called me that weekend and said it’s for sale! We bought it in two weeks. Things really just happened! It was a shock to my system. A lot of women were just beginning to go to work in those days — I had nothing lined up for my kids, so they’d walk home from school and call me when they got there, and I was only two blocks away, so I’d run home.”

The end is near

Eventually Don, who was in advertising, joined Cindy in the business. Then in 2003, developers first began talking to property owners on Water Street about developing the hodge-podge area.

“They called all the owners to meet at the Brestal law firm. They asked owners of probably 12 businesses if we were interested in selling, and we were like, wow, I don’t know.”

The Kaminkys ended up selling the property to Moser in 2006, closing their business but selling the assets to a former employee who runs what’s known as Dave’s Floral.

“He stayed there a couple of years, but then they had to move out of the house, though they never did tear it down. It’s been seven years and nothing has happened.”

With plans for development of Water Street finally moving ahead, the house’s days are numbered. The wrecking ball was avoided when Nichols Library was built, but some 30 years later, the house finally will be torn down, according to a Marquette Companies spokesman.

Cindy and Don, who now live in Somonauk, have a lot of good memories from “that beautiful house and the property and the gorgeous perennial gardens out front” where Cindy worked tirelessly. But it also turned out to be a very good investment.

They had the “touch,” indeed.

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