Newer and younger residents of Naperville may not be familiar with Jane Sindt as a person, but if you’ve ever strolled the Riverwalk, attended an event at the Grand Pavilion or gone swimming at the beach, you are probably familiar with her name. The drive there was designated “Honorary Sindt Memorial Court” in 2002.
Older residents with a longer history in Naperville knew Jane as a person, or more precisely, knew her as a tornado of convictions and activity.
Caroline Martin Mitchell left her family home to the city in 1936 to become Naperville’s historical museum. But it was Jane who first moved buildings onto the property and started the Heritage Society in 1969 to do so. Century Memorial Chapel was the first building to be carefully secured, raised and rolled through the streets to what we now call Naper Settlement.
The venture was not completely popular at the time, but when Jane took on a project, she completed it well and with flair.
Jane’s interest was not because she was a fourth generation Napervillian. In fact, she attended 23 elementary schools and five high schools while growing up as her father worked in locations across the country, taking the family along.
Jane arrived in Naperville as an adult in 1957 with her husband Gus and two children, Susan and Tobey.
During that time, she was a stage actress at local theaters as well as appearing in TV commercials and Chicago-filmed movies, but she also developed a fierce love for her adopted community. She is quoted as saying: “When I first moved to Naperville, so many important historic places were being torn down. People in the midwest seemed to think they didn't have anything worth saving.” Jane thought differently.
In addition to serving as the first leader of the Heritage Society from 1969-1976, Jane also started the Farmers Market at Fifth Avenue Station and worked closely with May Watts to create the Prairie Path.
The Sindt family home was nestled among the trees at the very end of Honorary Sindt Memorial Court and she lived there until she died on Christmas Eve in 1995. By agreement, the land became a Naperville Parks property. Part of it is a maintenance facility, but some of land is a public trail. When you’re strolling that section, take a moment to remember Jane and her dedication to her adopted community.