In 2008, Bart and Maricela ’99 Madden donated the A.A. Smith House at 28 S. Loomis St. and most of its contents to North Central College. The Maddens had purchased the house in 1999 and spent years renovating and furnishing it in the Eastlake Victorian style in which it was originally designed.
The College’s connection with the house dates back even before the home was built. The College’s first president, Augustine A. Smith, purchased the property in 1872 near the College’s new campus in Naperville. Professor Henry C. Smith, son of A.A. Smith, taught music and Latin for the College for 60 years, and he and his wife Mary Dreisbach Smith built their family home on the property in 1885.
Once the house was completed, the H.C. Smith family moved in with their five children, including President Emeritus A.A. Smith and his wife Eliza Cowles Smith, making it a three-generational home. By 1905, only H.C. and Mary Smith remained in the home. They decided to move to a smaller house, which had been built next door, and sold the house at 28 S. Loomis St. to another family.
Over the years, the house was divided into separate apartments and repeatedly changed hands. In 1949, the College purchased the home. During that period, the College purchased many homes in the Historic District and rented them to members of the faculty. The College eventually sold the home in 1963.
It wasn’t until the mid-1980s that restorations began to return the home to a single-family residence. When the Maddens purchased the house in late 1999, they embarked on a four-year effort to restore the home to its original grandeur, researching every aspect of Victorian era decor while also updating the plumbing, wiring, roof and heating/air conditioning.
Today, the A.A. Smith House hosts special guests and events for students, alumni, faculty, staff and the community. The Smith family’s legacy and the home’s connection to North Central College will live on for generations to come.
The Madden’s generosity to North Central College, including their gift of the A.A. Smith House, was honored in 2008 with the naming of the Bartley and Maricela Madden Theatre in the Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center.
Photo, left, ca. 1885