Nichols Library

The Old Nichols Library building has been privately owned by Truth Lutheran Church for the past 22 years. Truth Lutheran Church approached builders to find a new home for their church after the rapidly deteriorating 119 year-old building at 110 S. Washington Street in Downtown Naperville they purchased from the City in 1995 became too costly to maintain. The congregation is moving to a new church in fall 2017.  The developer plans to build Nichols Place,  a mixed-use building that will put the property on the tax rolls and create an economically viable resource that will meet the needs of Downtown Naperville in the future.


Use of the Site


The Site for the new building occupies the entire site currently occupied by the old library building.  It does not encroach on the City’s Central Park Place walkway leading to Central Park, nor does it affect Central Park itself. The Century Walk sculpture Veteran’s Valor will remain untouched in its place. An improved sidewalk will flank the east side of the building.



Floor by Floor Use


The proposed building includes underground parking,  bike racks and storage on the lower level, interior ground level office parking, 3-4 retail spaces on the first floor, office space on the second floor and 10 residential condominiums on levels 3 and 4.  A rear-facing rooftop terrace will provide leisure green space for residents only.  The proposed building falls within the 60-foot height restriction for this area.



The Reality of a 119-Year-Old Building


The 119 year-old building, with its exterior of brick and limestone, and with multiple additions by the City and church, is currently suffering from the ravages of weather and time. Bricks and stone are spalling, crumbling, molding and deteriorating with water damage.  There is water damage to the roof, fascia, overhangs and areas where additions have joined the original building.  Windows are no longer operational and doors no longer meet City code.  A number of pragmatic physical updates to the facility have compromised the historic aspects of the building.



Library Interior Today


While some remember the 1898 structure as featuring a reading room and stacks separated by arched walls and a central hall, as well as carved mantles and wide veranda overlooking Central Park, those features do not remain. 

The reading room has become an altar and the arched walls and halls are gone. The balance of the room is used for seating and a meeting table. 


Old Nichols as the Centerpiece


This design places the western façade of the old building as the centerpiece of the new building, utilizing as much of the existing brick and stone face with all its architectural features as is physically possible.  The center portion of the current façade will be painstakingly disassembled, numbered and reassembled on the façade of the new building to serve as an entrance to the retail spaces.  A 3-foot relief will set the Old Library façade off the building to make it instantly recognizable.  Architectural details and materials from the original building will be echoed in the design of the upper office and residential floors, affording owners of the high-amenity building a place they can be proud to call home. The building echoes the historic nature of much of Downtown Naperville.


North Orientation


This plan uses the entire width of the front façade of the library in the same north orientation where it currently stands. This orientation might lend itself to a restaurant use. Again, the façade will be set three feet forward of the greater building to accent its presence.


Reuse and Replication


It is the intent of the builder to honor the spirit of the covenant attached to the deed which calls for maintaining the west façade and vestibule of the Old Library.  As noted, as much as physically possible, the facade elements will be saved and replaced on the façade of the new building.  Where materials are not salvageable, materials will be taken from elsewhere in the building or replicated. While the current entry vestibule does not meet ADA and fire codes, and has been marred by installation of an electric heater and boarded side lights, the plan is to expand and rebuild the vestibule to meet code. Wood will be reused and replicated as is possible.  The existing tile floor will be saved and reinstalled with new border tiles to accommodate the larger floor.

A public gallery space is planned for the southern entry to the building on Washington Street, where displays will recount the history of civic leader, professor and benefactor James L. Nichols and the Nichols Library.


All Indoor


All parking is provided within the building.  No additional surface spaces are called for. Forty residential parking spaces are provided on the lower level. Nine additional spaces for office owners are on the street level within the building.  Any additional parking by retail workers will be on the third floor of the Central Parking Garage by hang tag.