“Succession” is the description of the way plant communities evolve both in number and diversity. This ecological process, first formulated by Henry C. Cowles of the University of Chicago in 1899, was popularized by May Theilgaard Watts of the Morton Arboretum in her book Reading the Landscape of America.
This evolutionary model of simpler life forms giving way to the more complex also provides an interpretative framework for post 1950 DuPage. A comparable transformation in the county’s population, economic, political, and cultural composition occurred in the wake of World War II.
The 1980 census put this transformation in dramatic perspective. Of DuPage’s 658,858 people, 75 percent had been gained in the preceding thirty years. The increase of 171,000 from 1970 represented the largest absolute growth of population in any county outside the Sunbelt. DuPage is currently the sixteenth fastest growing county, the others being located south of the Mason-Dixon Line. It has become larger than the cities of Boston, Cleveland, New Orleans; it has a population greater than five states. For most of the history of the six-county Chicago area, DuPage was least in population. It is now second largest in the state.
Even since the turn of the decade, there have been marked developments. This has been particularly evident in Naperville which, according to a special count in 1983, has become the most populous community in DuPage with a total of 49,196 people. That increase of 6,600 persons amounts to a 15.5 percent growth in three years. Elmhurst, which had held the lead as the largest city in the county for most of the century, is now well behind in second place. In relative terms, the village of Bloomingdale showed the biggest gain between 1970 and 1980, from 2,974 to 12,659, a fourfold increase.
This numerical expansion found its counterpart in spatial annexation. Naperville doubled in size virtually overnight in 1960, while William Zaininger was mayor, in the largest single annexation in DuPage history. This action followed the state legislature’s adoption of the one-and-a-half-mile jurisdictional review rights for the purpose of preventing separate incorporation by adjacent subdivisions. Builders would often seek incorporation with a minimum of residents to escape the requirements of the county’s or city’s building code. In the 1970s the incorporated city again expanded from twelve to twenty-two square miles. In DuPage as a whole, unincorporated areas decreased correspondingly from encompassing 23 percent of the population in 1970 to 18 percent in 1980.
Three other characteristics of the changing demographic scene must be noted, each a sign of the times in society at large. The increased percentage in nonwhite residents presents itself first. The overall pattern was from less than 1 percent of the population in 1970 to more than 5.2 percent ten years later. Hispanics represent 2.6 percent of the total, Asian-Americans 1.4 percent, and blacks 1.2 percent. Among communities with higher-than average nonwhite groups are West Chicago and Bensenville with Hispanics comprising 16.7 percent and 8.4 percent of these communities respectively. Glendale Heights is 12 percent nonwhite with 7.8 percent of these being Asian. Carol Stream’s population is 4 percent black.
A survey of 800 Hispanic families in nine Addison Township Catholic parishes showed that most had come from four states of Mexico, although Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Guatemalans were also represented. Most have been in this country less than ten years. There is a generation of older Hispanics who came to work on the railroads in the 1920s and 1930s and whose children are actively involved in all aspects of community life.
A large number of Asian-Americans live in the southeast corner of the country, including the villages of Burr Ridge, Hinsdale, Oak Brook, Willowbrook, Darien, Clarendon Hills, Westmont, Downers Grove, Woodridge, and Lisle. People of Asiatic descent in that area include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Vietnamese, and Asian Indians. Because many of them have specialized in engineering and scientific fields, they have found employment in Argonne National Laboratory. Westmont resident Tirupataiah Tella is president of the Federation of India Association, which oversees fifty groups serving approximately 50,000 Asian Indians in the Chicago area. She estimates that 90 percent of this population has migrated within the last ten to fifteen years.
Two other characteristics of the changing population pattern pertain to the composition of households. The increase of single-parent homes from 6.8 percent to 10.8 percent during the 1970s bespeaks the effects of an increase in the society’s divorce rate. The aging of the general population in DuPage is seen in the median age rising from 26.1 years in 1970 to 29.4 years in 1980. While the “Graying of America” is not happening as rapidly locally as elsewhere in the nation, it has already meant the closing of a number of schools.
The implication of these shifts in demographic features will be noted now in other aspects of the contemporary social landscape. The foremost factor to be considered is economic, serving as both cause and effect of population increase.
ON THE MOVE
Long identified as a “commuter’s paradise,” DuPage has now become increasingly the place of employment. An early turning point in this direction was construction of the Eisenhower (Congress) Expressway in 1956. The concomitant closing of the CA&E railroad symbolized the end of the preceding era. Previously the settlement pattern was villages growing up around the railroad stations. The new pattern became a proliferation of housing subdivisions beyond village centers, reachable only by automobile. The vast conversion of farms into “dormitory” tract developments continued without letup from the mid-1950s until the late 1970s, with residents commuting elsewhere in the metropolitan area for employment.
As a result of such growth, Harold Dunton, assistant Milton Township supervisor, devised a house numbering system in 1953 for the unincorporated areas of the county. The base line for east west addresses was State Street, and north south was Madison Street. Hence, the Wood Dale Historical Museum at 7 N 040 Wood Dale Road is seven miles north of Madison.
A further mutation occurred by the time of the 1980 census. The number of people coming to work inside the county exceeds the number going outside the county. Those who still commute to work number 141,564. Those residents working inside DuPage total 162,191, while 124,715 persons are coming in from the outside. Currently, for every one job held outside DuPage, two are being provided internally. The proportion of jobs in the six-county metropolitan area generated by DuPage doubled, from 4.4 percent in 1970 to 8.5 percent in 1980. Median family income rose to $30,431-the highest in the state and the twelfth highest nationally.
Housing continues to be the focal point of the area’s economic development, although it no longer enjoys the near-monopoly of capital spending it held through the 1950s.
Two-thirds of the county’s 211,710 acres are currently developed with residential use constituting 36.8 percent of the acreage developed between 1970 and 1980. During that same period 13 percent of the land was devoted to commercial, industrial, and ORD (office, research, and development).
Among the earliest of the developers was Harold Moser, who came to Naperville in 1917 at the age of two when his osteopath father moved to that community. By the mid1930s, young Moser had started the Naperville Sun, which he soon sold. He subsequently purchased the Kluckhom Coal Company and later converted it into a lumber yard, leading Moser directly into construction. He began his housing development in 1951 with Moser Highlands. This was followed by Naperville Plaza, Cress Creek, West Moser Highlands, representing a total of 9,000 power connections.
Coming from outside the DuPage area, the first of the large tract builders was the Hoffman Group, originally called Hoffman-Rosner. The company came to Chicago from Arizona in 1955 and started with the construction of Hoffman Estates. It then moved into DuPage County, with developments in Lombard, Glen Ellyn, Bolingbrook, Bloomingdale, Wheaton, and Glendale Heights.
During the 1979-1982 recession, Hoffman pioneered a variable mortgage plan. As inflation forced alternatives to single-family dwellings and made for downsized homes, its models won awards in the 1982 Builder’s Magazine, published by the National Association of Home Building. United Development, the residential arm of Urban Investment, which is the commercial developer of the Oak Brook shopping center, Poulty Builders, Town & Country are other major contractors. Other individuals whose early plans were the harbingers of later expansion included Harold Reskin, Jay Stream, and Paul Butler.
Following World War II Reskin and his father, Charles, after completing projects in North Lake and Villa Park, looked farther west along North Avenue and identified the area to be incorporated in 1959 as Glendale Heights. It was so named because of its location between Glen Ellyn and Bloomingdale.
In that same year, Carol Stream was incorporated and named after the daughter of developer Jay Stream. Like Glendale Heights, it included an increasing number of multifamily units. For DuPage as a whole, 69,502 units are in multiples, housing 30 percent of the population, compared to 18 percent in 1970.
Jay Stream also planned varied land use, as did Paul Butler for the village of Oakbrook. In Carol Stream provision was made for industrial development to keep homeowners’ property taxes low. Container Corporation of America, Crown Zellerbach, and Fiat-Allis were among the companies to locate in that community. Jay Stream left in the early 1960s to become business manager for entertainer Wayne Newton, with whom he shared an interest in Arabian horses.
Oakbrook celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1983, after its transformation from a 7,000-acre rural area, owned by Paul Butler, to the commercial, if not geographical, center of the county. A quarter of the Fortune 500 companies maintain offices in the community, including the headquarters of fifteen major companies, such as McDonald’s and Chicago Bridge & Iron.
Among the other communities celebrating their silver anniversary recently were Oakbrook Terrace, Willowbrook, and Woodridge. In 1958 the city of Utopia was incorporated, thus continuing the name that had been associated with the area around Butterfield and Summit roads since 1881. In that year Elmhurst postmaster Dr. Frederich Bates gave it that name after receiving complaints from around Albert Knapp’s creamery/cheese factory that residents were not receiving their mail. That missing correspondence included bills, which made “Utopia” seem an appropriate name. In 1959, however, by referendum vote (101 yes, 84 no) the name was changed to Oakbrook Terrace, thus indicating its proximity to the new shopping center.
The name for Willowbrook came about in a different manner. According to the county’s Reference and Yearbook, in 1959 a homeowners’ group decided to incorporate as a village. Changes in the law scheduled to become effective January 1 which would require a population of 400 for incorporation, caused this group of 167 people to expedite its request. In fact, while the case was before court, the attorney called the association’s president, Anton Borse, frantically asking a name for the new village. Borse looked out of his window at the willow trees along the edge of a creek on his property and promptly gave the village its name. Willowbrook became one of the state’s smallest villages on January 16, 1960.
This community also contains one of several pet cemeteries in DuPage County. In Willowbrook the grave sites are at 64th and Bentley roads. Another, the Illinois Pet Cemetery, founded in 1926, is on Jefferson Road, south of Hanover Park.
Neighboring Burr Ridge took its name from the Burr Ridge Estates, as it joined Woodview Estates, the village of Harvester, and the International Harvester Center in 1961. This combination of subdivisions and Harvester facilities is located in both Cook and DuPage counties.
The most recent community to be incorporated was Darien in 1969. Its name was taken from Darien, Connecticut.
There are unincorporated areas which continue to resist annexation. Keeneyville residents, near Hanover Park, still maintain horses on their property, a practice prohibited in municipalities. The only civic institution in Eola, adjacent to Aurora at the Kane County line, is the post office. Each of its households depends upon its own well water and septic field.
The macroeconomic picture of the county would not be complete without surveying the variety of other commercial and industrial growth, particularly in the last fifteen years.
The first research institution in the county was Argonne National Laboratories. It opened in 1947 as the peaceful spinoff from the original atomic fission experiment under Stagg Field at the University of Chicago (the military counterpart is in White Sands, New Mexico). It has since expanded its research to cover a broad range of projects, such as the effects of acid rain and, until 1981 federal cutbacks, of toxic metals in the Great Lakes.
The 6,800-acre Fermilab, opening in 1973, houses the largest high-energy particle accelerator in the world Subatomic particles are orbited at the rate of 50,000 times a second in a ring four miles in circumference. When these smash against the target area, the basic structure of matter is explored, yielding results in such fields as cryogenics and super-conductivity. Five hundred scientists from the United States and abroad conduct their experiments at any given time on this site of the short-lived post World War II village of Weston.
Commercial research and development is represented by the “High Tech Corridor” along the East West Tollway. Largest of these “R & D” facilities is AT&T Laboratories with 6,146 employees. This number does not include the 2,000 persons working in its adjacent software center, AT&T Technologies (formerly Western Electric Company).
There are thirty-eight industrial parks in DuPage, the largest being the 1,500-acre Santa Fe Argonne Park with 600 acres developed. Second in land acreage but first in development is the Carol Stream Industrial Properties, with 980 of its 1,100 acres developed. The cluster of industrial parks in Addison contains United Parcel Service’s (UPS) largest sorting facility; this hub handles 1 million UPS packages a day.
There are a total of 222 companies in DuPage with at least 150 employees. Retail sales in DuPage rose from 8 percent of the total in the six-county metropolitan area in 1970 to 12 percent in 1980 and are estimated to reach 17 percent in 1990. The fourth regional shopping center, Stratford Square, was completed in 1981 on 873 acres. Oakbrook opened first in 1962, followed by Yorktown in 1968 and Fox Valley in 1975.
Whenever officials speak at public forums, the most frequently mentioned issue is water. This topic signifies that the most obvious effect of post World War II change has been environmental.
The water issue is succinctly summarized by the fact that the two-thirds of a million residents, along with institutional users, consume 80 million gallons of groundwater per day, compared to 50 million that can be extracted without depleting the water supply. The estimate is that water usage will increase 60 percent, to 130 million gallons per day, within forty years. The water table is already dropping as much as ten feet per year in parts of the county.
Because of the growing shortage, the Tree Towns Water Commission was founded in the 1950s. Its successor, the DuPage Water Commission, was composed of representatives from 22 municipalities. This in turn, was superseded by a body composed of 11 members, five named by the municipalities, and six by the county board. A proposal has been formulated to bring water from Lake Michigan in a seven-foot diameter pipe to a point just south of Elmhurst. Thence it would be distributed throughout the county at a total cost of $350 million.
If water shortage is one pressing problem, another is water surplus — when it comes to flooding. Following the devastating inundation of 1972, a floodplain ordinance was enacted by the county within a year. A subsequent program of water retention has been undertaken; one example is the 870-acre reservoir near Spring Brook Creek north of Bloomingdale. This, in turn, feeds into Salt Creek, which is part of the Des Plaines River watershed.
A third water-related issue deals with recycling. Environmental engineer John R. Sheaffer, a Wheaton resident and co-author with Leonard A. Stevens of Future Water, contends that the need to recycle water is urgent. An example of such conservation is found at Hamilton Lakes, a new hotel and office complex in Itasca. The 274-acre project is hydrologically self-sufficient as well water, pumped from a shallow aquifer and once used, is then piped to two lagoons where bacteria and micro-organisms begin disposing of the waste. The water is then used to irrigate the landscape through an underground sprinkler system. The nutrients from the treated waste water provide $13,000 worth of free fertilizer annually as the water filters through the soil. By the time it reaches the aquifer again, it is clean enough to be used for drinking.
The problem of waste disposal is, of course, broader than water management. In DuPage, as elsewhere, there is the challenge of running “out of out” in a throwaway society. Two landfills, Mallard Lake in Hanover Park and Greene Valley in Woodridge, following the pattern of “Mt. Trashmore” in Blackwell Preserve, have capacities to receive enough waste to continue in operation until after the turn of the century. However, there are twenty-five municipalities outside of DuPage, mostly from Cook County, that use these facilities. Cook County is slated to close some of its own sites in the meantime. Moreover, the disposal of toxic wastes has been a continuing source of contention. An Oak Brook-based waste management company received national publicity in 1983, the year of the “Sewergate” controversy. The presence of thorium contamination in Kress Creek, produced by owners of a plant in West Chicago from 1931 to 1973, resulted in a 1984 cleanup order from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The public response to the ecological threat of rapid population growth often has been made through the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. Its land acquisition program has resulted in an increased amount of land in the public domain from its first purchase of sixty-one acres in 1917, two years after the State of Illinois passed the enabling statutes to allow the formation of forest preserve districts, to 17,500 acres at present. DuPage was the second county in the state and the fifth in the country to establish a district. Commissioner Roy C. Blackwell offered particularly strong leadership in promoting the cause of conservation. The date of acquisition of each of the preserves is as follows:
Belleau Woods – 1965
Roy C. Blackwell – 1961
Burlington Park – 1922
Campbell Slough -1977
Churchill Woods -1935
Cricket Creek -1974 (renamed 1978; previously called Kingery West)
East Branch – 1970
Egermann Woods -1974
Fischer Woods – 1921
Fullersburg Woods – 1920
Fullerton Park – 1974
Goodrich Woods -1926
Greene Valley – 1926 (renamed in 1969; previously called Hinterlong)
Herrick Lake -1925
Hidden Lake -1976
Mallard Lake – 1956
Maple Grove -1920
McDowell Grove – 1930
Meacham Grove – 1920
Pioneer Park – 1929
Pratt’s Wayne Woods – 1965
Springbrook – 1975
Salt Creek -1931
Elmhurst/Salt Creek – 1978
Timber Ridge – 1965
West Branch – 1973 Upper Area; 1979 Lower Area
Warrenville Grove – 1923
Waterfall Glen -1925 (renamed in 1973; previously called Rocky Glen)
Wayne Grove – 1923
West Chicago Prairie – 1979
West DuPage Woods -1919
York Woods – 1917
Willowbrook – 1956
Winfield Mounds – 1976
Wood Dale Grove – 1929
Under the administration of H. C. “Chuck” Johnson, the district has received achievement awards from the National Association of Counties for the Blackwell Recreational Preserve and the Fullersburg Nature Center. The districts resource management specialist, Wayne Lampa, has identified in the West Chicago Prairie 450 plant species, a number of which have not been found growing elsewhere. Altogether, the preserves account for 20 percent of the county’s land use.
Closely related to these conservation efforts, but having broader responsibilities, is the DuPage County Development Department. DuPage was the first county in Illinois to adopt a zoning ordinance in 1933. A comprehensive rezoning of the county occurred in the 1950s, with planning made a function of the Department of Building and Zoning. It was not, however, until 1969 that the DuPage County Regional Planning Commission was established. Since that time, Joseph Abel has served as the director. He made a land use survey the first order of business because that information provides the basis of decision making for all other aspects of the master plan, including its housing and transportation components. These, in turn, have generated considerable debate.
In 1971 HOPE, Inc. (Homes of Private Enterprise), an advocacy group formed in 1968 to provide increased housing opportunities for lower-income and minority persons, filed suit against the DuPage County Board on the grounds of exclusionary zoning practices. Headed by former Catholic priest, Bernard Kleina, the group was represented by attorney R. Dickey Hamilton, son of former Wheaton mayor, Margaret Hamilton.
Ten years after the initial complaint, Federal District Judge Herbert L. Will ruled in favor of the fair housing organization. In the summer of 1984, however, the 7th District U. S. Court of Appeals ruled that HOPE lacked standing in the case. The decision may ultimately be appealed to the U. S. Supreme Court. Whatever the outcome, the dispute has become a civil rights landmark in DuPage history.
During the period of litigation, through 1982, 4,154 units of subsidized housing had been established in twenty-five of the municipalities. By the county’s own estimate, 15,000 units are still needed to meet the housing needs. In August 1983, when the DuPage Housing Authority announced the availability of funds for thirty rent subsidy payments, 700 people waited in line to apply.
In addition to the housing dilemma has been that pertaining to highways. Seventeen intersections in DuPage fall into the highest category of accidents, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. The traffic at Army Trail and Rohlwing roads in Addison doubled between 1978 and 1983, with 61,000 vehicles entering and exiting at the nearby Interstate Route 90 terminus each day.
Relieving that congestion would be the proposed North-South Tollway which would make connection between Army Trail Road and I-55. With the Northeast Illinois Planning Commission projecting 20 percent of the region’s population to be living in that corridor by the year 2000, the need for FAP 431, as the projected expressway has been called, is apparent. The Morton Arboretum, however, would have land taken on its east end by that road expansion and has testified to ecological damage which would be inflicted by such a high-speed artery. The built-in conflicts of a rapidly growing area, therefore, are inevitable. Among the officials brought into play on the resolution of such public collision of interests are DuPage office holders at various levels.
The highest elected officials are those representing the county in Congress. For six of his twenty years in the House of Representatives, John Erlenborn represented all of DuPage County, in addition to a portion of Will County, With the redistricting that followed the 1980 census, DuPage is now represented by three congressmen. Erlenborn’s 13th District extends across its southeast quadrant into Cook and Will counties as well. The 6th District, currently served by Henry Hyde, covers the northeast quadrant along with portions of five townships in Cook County. The western three DuPage townships and a portion of Milton are now represented by Tom Corcorcoran, whose jurisdiction extends as far south as Marshall County.
At the state level, James “Pate” Philip of Elmhurst now serves as the State Senate minority leader as well as chairman of the DuPage County Republican party. He has held the latter post since 1970, after winning a hotly contested election against Carleton Nadelhoffer of Naperville at the party’s county convention by a weighted vote of 31,990 to 31,552. This intraparty campaign was so intense that one committeeman took four planes from Florida during an airlines strike to be present for the balloting.
This political battle occurred at the time of the retirement of Elmer Hoffman, the head of the organization for the preceding two decades. During his tenure in the party post, as Erlenborn’s predecessor in Washington, as Illinois state treasurer, and officeholder in a variety of other positions, Hoffman had been the dominant political figure since World War II. During the Richard J. Daley era, Hoffman claimed that the Chicago mayor was the best campaigner the DuPage Republicans ever had because the opposition to the Chicago “machine” was a common denominator among suburbanites.
The state’s attorney’s office has been the springboard for a number of the recent generation of leaders. Under William Guild’s administration in the late 1950s, these attorneys first served and later held the following positions: William Bauer, federal judge; John Erlenborn, congressman; Harris Fawell, state senator and congressional nominee. Helen Kinney, the first woman to serve as circuit court judge, likewise, had worked in that office. In 1960 Phoebe Dutcher was the first woman ever elected to county-wide office.
A three-part series in the Suburban Tribune from October 22-24, 1980, delineated the three networks which sustain the near monopoly that the Republican party enjoys in DuPage: the business-political axis, the precinct committeeman system, and loyalists who hold county jobs. Illustrating these interconnections, the series notes that fifty-six corporate contributors to the party received seventy-three county contracts. There are 112 elected state, county, and township officials in DuPage. At that time sixty-nine of them, or members of their immediate families, served as committeemen.
The dominance of the GOP is also to be accounted for by its three-to-one voter registration advantage over Democrats, although 55 percent of the county’s electorate are undeclared independents. A record four Democrats served on the twenty-five-member county board in the wake of the Watergate scandal; however, Jane Spirgel of Elmhurst is the only one to survive elections subsequent to 1976. Democrat William Redmond of Bensenville served as speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives before his 1982 retirement.
Jack Knuepfer also served at the state level of government before his successful race for county board chairman in 1976. In that capacity, he leads in overseeing its tax-supported human services.
CARE AND CULTURE
Both publicly and privately supported services provide the collective response to the human impact of post World War II social change in DuPage.
The county’s Mental Health Department has grown to the point of offering satellite counseling services in Addison, Lombard, Westmont, and Wheaton in response to 400 calls a month. DUI Program (Driving Under the Influence) is treating those referred by the courts. It services 3,000 cases instead of the originally estimated 1,000 cases, according to Gary Noll, director.
Mobility, in itself, generates the need for varied services. Within the schools, for example, with the high degree of turnover in the county’s population, the 275 counselors, social workers, and psychologists find continuity of service difficult to provide to 112,000 students. Only 18.8 percent of those living in Carol Stream in 1980 had resided in that community five years before. The figure was 24.7 percent for Lisle and 28.20 percent for Naperville. While length of residence was up to 62.47 percent in Elmhurst and 71.06 percent in Wayne, the average stay in one place in the county as a whole was less than 50 percent over the preceding five years.
The increasing mixture of national origins is reflected at the College of DuPage. This two-year community college, which has grown to 28,000 students since its 1967 opening, provides English as a second language to students from thirty-nine countries. Thirteen of the county’s forty-five school districts offer bilingual education.
The DuPage Library System serves twenty-eight schools, seventeen public, sixteen special, and eight academic libraries in the county. Established in 1966, this is one of eighteen cooperative systems in Illinois. It makes possible the interlibrary loan program, computer searching, and a variety of other services.
In the private sector, two of the social agencies date from the nineteenth century. The Lutherbrook Children’s Center, now part of the statewide Lutheran Child & Family Services, dates back to the Addison orphanage. The eighty-eight-year-old Bensenville Home Society now offers retirement as well as adoption, foster care, and counseling services.
The Family Service Association, begun during the Depression years, devotes half of its resources to divorce problems as the rate of marital dissolutions nears the 50 percent mark. Drug related and financial counseling have assumed a larger portion of staff time in recent years.
A service for the mentally handicapped came to an abandoned 1916 school building at the corner of Park and Butterfield roads, south of Glen Ellyn, in 1952, after having made an initial start that same year in LaGrange. Taking the name Bonaparte from above the door, it moved to Lincoln School in Bensenville in 1956 and merged with the Ray Graham Rehabilitation Center in 1972. Today, with seventeen sites in DuPage and a $6 million budget, the Ray Graham Association for the Handicapped is the largest agency of its kind in the country. It was named after the founder of such rehabilitation services for the State of Illinois.
Begun in 1965, Little Friends, Inc., of Naperville also serves the disabled and handicapped and occupies the former Kroehler mansion. The Attention Group (TAG), an emergency shelter for teens in Naperville and Downers Grove, and the Family Shelter in Glen Ellyn for battered women and their children reflect a grass-roots response to problems about which society is becoming increasingly aware.
Compassionate Friends, headquartered in Oakbrook, is an international organization with 350 chapters around the world providing support to grieving parents. The local expression of a national movement is Hospice Volunteers of DuPage, a support service for the terminally ill and their families. It cooperates with the county’s seven hospitals, three of which have been established since 1950 Glendale Heights Community, Good Samaritan in Downers Grove, and Marianjoy Rehabilitation in Wheaton. Each of these has had particular impetus from the religious community.
Mixed with its social service involvements, DuPage religion has been characterized by three recent developments. The first is the marked increase in the number of Catholics, now constituting the largest religious body with 255,000 adherents out of the 675,000 population. (The Missouri Synod Lutherans with 26,374 are next in size.) This is up from 30,000 adherents when the Joliet Diocese split off from the Chicago Archdiocese in 1949. The number stood at 180,370 in 1971. There are forty parishes and thirty-one elementary and five secondary schools. This growth is due in large measure to the influx of people from the predominately Catholic western suburbs of Cook County, as distinct from the earlier pattern of transferees from across the nation. The largest parish is still SS. Peter and Paul in Naperville, with 3,700 families. There are 3,500 families in Glendale Heights’ St. Matthew’s Church, including a sizable number of Vietnamese, with a Mass in that language.
Cloverdale’s Parish of St. Isidore changed little after its founding in 1920 until the 1950s. By 1978 it had 450 families registered. Within two years that number almost quadrupled. The Rev. Stanley Orlikiewicz is the dean of priests in DuPage. He has served three different parishes and is currently at the 3,000-family church in Roselle, a church which had doubled in size over the last decade.
Also of note is the work of Father Thomas Peyton, a Maryknoll priest, who in 1967 organized a Roman Catholic group called REC (Religious Education Community), patterned along Vatican II guidelines. Drawn from different parishes, the group was instrumental in the establishment of the Peace and Justice Center in Wheaton, which provided draft counseling during the Vietnam War. This agency is now called People’s Resource Center. Director Dorothy McIntyre reports that it is now one of twenty-eight pantries in DuPage, double the number from the preceding years. It serves 5,000 persons annually.
As these numbers have grown, Sister Rosemary Burrin has established Bethlehem Center, a food depository serving pantries in DuPage and neighboring counties. It makes available government surplus food as well as Second Harvest donations from large food companies. It is supported by the DuPage County Building Trades Council composed of twenty-eight construction trade locals, such as Sheet and Metal Workers Local 265 of Carol Stream. These efforts recognize that there are currently 5,900 county residents over the age of sixty who live below the poverty level. Altogether 20,000 persons, or 3.5 percent of the population, lives below that $4,300 annual income figure.
The second characteristic of religious life has been evangelical expansion. The opening of the Billy Graham Center in 1980, across from Wheaton College’s Blanchard Hall, represents that movement. This $13.5 million structure contains the evangelist’s memorabilia and papers and serves as a museum, a conference center, and quarters for the Wheaton Graduate School of Religion. It is near neighboring Carol Stream which provides headquarters for such groups as MAP (Medical Assistance Program), Tyndale House (publishers of The Living Bible), Youth for Christ, and the National Evangelical Association, publishers of Christianity Today, which has the largest circulation of all Protestant journals. In 1967 Calvary Temple began in Naperville as the work of the Assemblies of God denomination and has grown to 2,000 members. Christ Church in Oakbrook has become a 3,000-member nondenominational congregation.
Finally, the increased religious diversity of the most recent decades must be considered. There are two Jewish congregations — Beth Shalom in Naperville and Etz Chaim, an older congregation of 220 families in Lombard. The Zorastrian Center, at 8615 Meadowbrook Drive in Hinsdale, is the first such temple built in North America and serves 300 adherents in the Chicago area. In 1983, at the Odeum Stadium in Villa Park, there was a celebration of the Moslem holiday of Ramadan with 6,000 people attending in the sports facility that accommodates only 4,000. The traffic was backed up for a considerable distance on neighboring Route 83. The Hindu community has purchased the American Legion hall in Glen Ellyn. A Nachiren Shoshu (Buddhist) temple has been built at the intersection of Joliet Road and Route 59, across from the original site of Gary’s Mill.
The cultural aspect of DuPage since World War II likewise features a diversity, variety, and complexity unknown in previous decades. In 1979 the College of DuPage sponsored a community project called Century III, which compiled a list of art related activities in the county. The resulting booklet, “The Arts in DuPage,” showed that there were, at the time, nineteen groups in the field of graphic arts. The DuPage Art League was the first to have a gallery and a school. It met originally in the Albright building in Warrenville in 1957 and subsequently opened a gallery on Front Street in Wheaton.
Also listed are three dance groups, fourteen drama groups, sixteen music clubs, twenty-seven musical performance groups, including four orchestras. The most recently formed of these in the New Philharmonic at the College of DuPage. Perhaps the best known vocal group is the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, which has sung with the Chicago Symphony and has appeared elsewhere in this country and abroad
The DuPage County Historical Museum was established in 1967 through the 1965 purchase of the old Wheaton Library building by philanthropist Edwin Deicke. Margaret Dunton served as first director, the position now held by Patricia Wallace. There are now twenty-six historical societies, the most extensive of program and facilities having been developed by the Naperville Heritage Society. In cooperation with that community’s park district, an eleven-and-a-half-acre site has been made available as a historic pioneer village with fourteen authentically restored buildings representing DuPage life in the 1831 to 1865 period This volunteer group has 700 members and operates on an annual $50,000 budget.
Among the unique cultural institutions is the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. Its collection of precious stones and rocks was acquired over a forty-year period by Joseph L. Lizzadro of Elmhurst, owner of Chicago’s Meade Electric Company. The museum, established in 1962, includes such items as a green jade pagoda fashioned in eighteenth-century China.
Perhaps the best-known performing artist to come from DuPage since World War II is Sherrill Milnes of Downers Grove. His father, James, came to Downers Grove in 1940 with his wife, Thelma, whose father, Charles K. Roe, had left her a 250-acre dairy farm. Sherrill was five years old when they arrived. In 1945 his mother became the director of the choir of the Congregational church, and it was through her that he gained his initial training and continuing inspiration. As he later recalled, “I heard all the `big dads’ sing on the Metropolitan Opera broadcasts. …But it never occurred to me that one day I would be singing with them.”
After graduating from Downers Grove High School in 1952, he attended North Central for a year, before transferring to Drake University. He did graduate study at Northwestern, doing commercials from 1958 to the early 1960s. His was the big baritone voice singing, “When you’re out of Schlitz, you’re out of beer.” By 1965 he had made his Metropolitan debut with his performance of Valentin in Gounod’s “Faust.” He has taken his place in the succession of great lead baritones including Lawrence Tibbett, John Charles Thomas, and Robert Merrill. He continued to return to Downers Grove for years for Christmas oratorios at the Downers Grove Congregational Church, conducting the “Elijah” in 1969 in memory of his mother, who had died that December.
Other notables from the county in the post World War II era include two who graduated from Wheaton Central in the 1960s. Both won fame in the mass media. John Belushi became a popular television and movie actor, while Bob Woodward followed a journalistic career on The Washington Post, where he was one of the two reporters to crack the Watergate conspiracy.
The DuPage Heritage Gallery, with its exhibits at the DuPage Center and with its oral history library and series of biographies, publicizes the lives of outstanding personalities from the locality. With the rate of change continuing unabated, there has been no climax to the area’s development. The need to chronicle the deepening, broadening, and ever more varied DuPage roots continues.
While no historical counterpart to the climax forest yet has occurred in the county, still the human parallels to the latter stages of plant succession are clear.
New life forms appear quickly once a former stage is superseded. Hardwoods moved into prairie cleared of grass so swiftly that pioneers could not let time lapse unduly before planting their crops.
In comparable fashion, as the auto age superseded former means of transportation, new communities appeared in rapid succession. To be sure, efforts continued to retain small town atmosphere in the midst of suburban sprawl. One Wayne resident stated, “We’re two miles west of Illinois 59 and two hundred years behind the rest of the world.”
Oakbrook Terrace retained its previous name, Utopia, for only a year. It became an “instant community.” Still, “Utopia” describes the economic and social aspirations of the multitude of new residents. Refugee Resource Networks of Wheaton has assisted the relocation in DuPage of 3,000 refugees from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Laos, Poland, and Vietnam. The Daily Journal, in its annual Business and Industry edition under Alyce Bartlett’s editorship, details the broadening economic base which makes absorption of such newcomers possible.
Even with the full potential of the county yet to be realized, DuPage is inevitably caught up in all the major issues confronting society.
Although twenty-eight of its municipalities now have black residents, the increase of that part of the population from 1,652 to 7,809 during the 1970s was not in proportion to the total population growth, an irony in the county which was at the forefront of pre-Civil War Abolitionism.
Yet evidence abounds that preservation efforts are not simply for the sake of indulging in nostalgia. Alex Haley’s Roots was a recent bestseller because of growing appreciation that the sense of past gives perspective and hope for the future. DuPage Roots has been written with that conviction.