Barns are America’s symbols of honesty, integrity, and the American dream. Let's open the Greene Barn!
Oak Cottage and Greene Barn
Landmarks Illinois has included Oak Cottage on the 2023 list of the state's top threatened culturally and architecturally significant sites threatened by deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds or inappropriate development.
Nestled on the East Branch of the DuPage River in Naperville, Illinois, sits the Greene family homestead with a 14,000-square-foot barn, the largest one in DuPage County, and a farmhouse lovingly called Oak Cottage by the family. One of the county’s earliest settlers, William Briggs Greene, acquired land in 1843 and developed the farmstead. Home to six generations of the Greene family, the homestead serves as a tribute to the courage and determination of the early settlers, who came in lumber wagons to the dense rolling prairie woodlands and learned how to farm and manage livestock. This book is also the story of William Bertram Greene, a father, grandfather, businessman, and philanthropist, who with his remarkable wisdom and foresight secured the preservation of the Greene homestead for future generations by donating it to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County in 1971.
Contact Board of Commissioners to support two recommendations in the plan:
Authorize the plan's HIGH PRIORITY to:
"Perform a study on Oak Cottage to document the structure's history and condition."
The board can issue a Request for Qualifications.
Authorize the plan's HIGH PRIORITY to:
"Identify a purpose and a means to utilize and maintain the existing Oak Cottage."
The board can appoint an ad hoc committee.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Board of Commissioners is responsible for the stewardship and use of its assets including Oak Cottage and Barn.
In 2023 they accepted a new Master Plan for Greene Valley Forest Preserve. Recommendations include, "perform a study on Oak Cottage to document the structure's history and condition," AND "identify a purpose and a means to utilize and maintain the existing Oak Cottage."
Please reach out to forest preserve commissioners with your encouragement to proceed with these two recommendations.
1. Perform a study on the Oak Cottage to document the structure's history and condition.
2. Determine a defined timeframe (3 years or less) for a third-party partner to identify a purpose and a means to utilize and maintain the existing Oak Cottage. If a third-party partner does not establish a viable mission-alligned plan for use and maintenance within the defined timeframe, then remove the structure and restore the landscape to open space.
Preserve integrity of Greene Farm Barn / no public access to interior.
Install outdoor patio space southeast of barn.
Naperville Preservation, Inc. submitted an application to Landmarks Illinois nominating Oak Cottage as a Most Endangered Place. On May 4, 2023 it was chosen!
The purpose of the list is to focus attention on sites threatened by deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds or inappropriate development and to bolster local advocacy efforts and build support for each property’s eventual preservation. The Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois list also draws attention to important policy issues that affect these properties and historic properties throughout the state.
Oak Cottage is a generous bequest of DuPage County's agricultural presence and tribute to one of DuPage County's earliest European established families. It is important to see history situated in its original place.
“Bill” Greene and his wife Jane embraced the family legacy of prosperity and philanthropy by donating the 10-acre Greene Family Farmstead through the Aurora Foundation to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County actively manages stewardship of land and cultural heritage:
"As experienced stewards and managers of heritage sites throughout the forest preserves, the Forest Preserve District's expert interpreters and educators are committed to ensuring the Graue properties remain a premier cultural destination for the people of DuPage County."
We ask no less for Oak Cottage and Greene Barn.
Please support adaptive re-use.
The iconic white farmhouse with green shutters, expansive porch, and peaceful back courtyard has stood under legacy bur oaks for 173 years. In original context she invites us to bear witness to the transformation of DuPage County from Native American rolling prairie to farmland to suburbia.
Public interior and exterior access to Greene Barn and Oak Cottage has community support. The forest preserve board of commissioners will receive a final Master Plan for Greene Valley Forest Preserve, including Greene Barn and Oak Cottage in February 2022.
Stantec Consulting has been hired to create the Master Plan.
Your attention and support are encouraged.
Review 2019 recommendations of the Greene Barn Ad Hoc Committee and integrate those potential community uses with opportunities that include a more intimate Oak Cottage venue for book groups, senior drop-in, trail rest, small group meetings, weddings, lectures, exhibits, board games, knitting together, high tea, folk concerts, scout visits, storytelling.
Come inside! Enjoy a guided walk through the Greene Barn inside and out. Feel the life of local limestone and timbers. Learn of the Greene Family connections to agriculture, industry and community.
It is hoped the barn will be open to the public as adaptive reuse generates deeper connections to nature and cultural heritage.
William B. Greene (1886-1982) donated ten acres of the family’s homestead property to the Foundation. The proceeds from the sale of the property to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County were placed in a designated fund the following year to ensure the perpetual guardianship of the Greene Homestead.https://www.cffrv.org/profile/greene-family-endowment/
Click on books below to read W.B. Greene's family history.
"A physical place that fosters dialogue to benefit society."
Idea Team, Imagine, Plan, Connect . SCOPE . BUDGET . SCHEDULE
Commissioner support is essential to embracing a vision.
A Master Plan is a place for vision, welcoming champions and partners. Contributions from many to benefit all.
A PHASED approach balances workload, funding and use.
The strong heart of home beats for future generations.
W.B (William Bertram) Greene, below center, embraced the hearts of his family and community by securing the family homestead in the care of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. He envisioned future generations of all peoples welcome to the land and home and barn; empowering lessons of culture and nature.
In the 1970s the Naperville Heritage Society recognized the significance of Greene's generosity with a commemorative plaque. It is hoped that Oak Cottage will one day be open to the public in adaptive reuse.
In 1850, the central portion of Oak Cottage was built by William Briggs Greene. It grew wing by wing through the years sheltering six generations. Simple lines define the exterior. The fireplace and mantel are slightly carved Vermont marble. At one time 16 people lived under its roof.
Buildings were added as the farm grew and prospered. The 14,000-square-foot barn began rising in the 1870s. The Greene Barn built from locally quarried limestone and hand-hewn timbers sheltered animals, hay, grain and tools.
Oak Cottage, the barn and 10-acre homestead were donated to the District by William Bertram Greene, grandson of William Briggs Greene.
Your support will help open both for public use.
To make a donation, click on the Greene button.
Join us in celebrating the successessss of the Greene Barn!
Click the books to read, "God Bless Our Home."
Donations support education and outreach!
Please support these generous sponsors who help build strong, inclusive and healthy communities.
Visit the Greene Valley Forest Preserve and check out the barn and trails. Social media posts are encouraged.
Share photos to the Greene Barn’s Facebook page and tag them #TheGreeneBarn. Thank you!
The barn is owned by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, which has received much citizen interest in its future. Britney Toussaint, Rachel Jenness, Becky Simon and Mary Lou Wehrli have been working with the Forest Preserve District to bring more attention to the cultural asset. You are encouraged and welcome to share your thoughts.
“It is hoped that the barn will connect people of all ages with nature, ecosystems, and cultural heritage,” said Toussaint.
The Greene Farmstead is located at the north end of the 1,388-acre Greene Valley Forest Preserve in Naperville. The preserve features 12-miles of marked trails, an off-leash dog area, a model-craft area, picnic shelters and a youth-group campground. It is home to more than 540 native plant species.
“It is a significant historic place with many stories to tell,” said Simon. “We look forward to attracting volunteers and developing a Strategic Plan.”
For information and to become involved, please call 630-420-2282 or visit TheGreeneBarn.org.
The 258-page Discovery and Analysis Phase Report was presented to the Board of Commissioners on October 19, 2021. Focus on the Greene Valley Forest Preserve begins on page 154.
The Market Analysis of the Greene Barn begins on page 16. The Board of Commissioners directed that the analysis be for commercial use. The Greene Barn Ad Hoc Committee recommendation was for mission-aligned mixed use gathering spaces with limited times of facility rental.
Historic preservation is a celebration of community. It maintains a record Naperville’s history and culture by keeping buildings alive through adaptive reuse. It helps define our identity, keeps our community intact, and is part of a healthy community.
We believe that preservation pays. Historic preservation is good for our local economy:
Historic Preservation is environmentally friendly. The greenest building is the one that is already built.
Funds raised benefit the efforts to create outdoor engagement with the Greene Barn, expand awareness of its potential when open to the public, and to celebrate connecting people with nature and the cultural heritage of DuPage County.