When the Napers arrived in 1831, the land was part of Cook County. In 1839, Joseph Naper was instrumental in establishing the county of DuPage with the county seat located here in Naperville. Land was set aside and $5000 raised to build a courthouse with jail cells. Outbuildings were later built for additional offices.
Over the next couple of decades, however, Wheaton’s importance grew while Naperville’s waned. Moving the county seat became a highly contentious issue that was resolved - if not amicably, at least without bloodshed - in 1868.
The courthouse was dismantled and sold as salvage. The outbuildings were taken over by the Fire Department to house their engines. And the rest of the courthouse square was improved to become a well-regarded public park.
Walkways, benches and landscaping were added. Monuments were erected such as a Civil War cannon, both Naperville and DuPage County Centennial markers and both the Soldiers and Sailors and Veterans’ Valor monuments.
Dedication for a new sculpture, a young, laughing Abraham Lincoln, is planned for September as part of Illinois’ Bicentennial.
The Fire Department moved out in 1888 which allowed for even more amenities. In the 1970s, some land was turned into parking spaces and landscaping berms were created. A shady children’s playground on one end is one of the more popular features.
The first band stand was erected in 1889 and has been reimagined several times since. The current concert and rehearsal facility was dedicated in 2003. Free concerts are held every Thursday during the summer.
Bring your family (and a picnic!) to enjoy some old-fashioned fun in lovely Central Park any Thursday during the summer and party like it's 1899.