North Central College - Naperville, IL

College builds on momentum

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Hammersmith House

As the College celebrated 150 years, it was a moment to reflect upon and celebrate all that has been accomplished since 1861—during times of prosperity and challenge. During 2012, the momentum builds with new these additions to campus, which will help position the College for the next 50 years.

Hammersmith House

A stately Italianate-style home adjoining Jefferson Plaza has been the home of North Central alumni for decades. Known as the “Hammersmith House” and still home to Ruth Hammersmith ’38, the property has officially become part of the College.

“This property represents the final campus addition in that block,” says Paul Loscheider, vice president for business affairs. “We’re grateful to the Hammersmith sisters and happy that Ruth continues to live in her childhood home.”

The exact date of the home’s construction isn’t certain but the  presence of a home and carriage house/garage in 1881 can be confirmed in historic records. The house was purchased in 1902 by Herman Hammerschmidt (family members later changed the spelling of their name) , immigrant grandfather of Ruth Hammersmith, from Sarah and Frank Rathbun for $3,000.

Ruth and her late sisters Marguerite “Peg “ ’37 and Mabel ’41 first lived in Hinsdale but their mother died when the girls were very young. Their father Carl moved the family to Naperville so the girls could be raised by their aunts. Carl owned a business in Chicago that printed yearbooks and he was an avid outdoorsman.

The girls grew up in the shadow of North Central and all three became alumnae. After graduation, Ruth lived and taught in Missouri before moving back to Naperville. She has lived in the house ever since and at age 95 continues to enjoy the life of the College. During the warm weather months, she likes sitting on her patio, which gives her a front-row seat to the activities that take place on the lot adjacent to Seager Hall and Student Village.

“The students are so busy walking back and forth,” she says. “And I love watching the young people who are here in the summer (from the Junior/Senior Scholars program).”

The charm of the property has been enhanced by the College’s efforts to improve the landscaping, walkways and condition of the exterior. The lovely home, with high ceilings, extensive wood and beautiful windows, will most likely be referred to as the Hammersmith House for years to come and represents the legacy of a family of sisters who literally grew up on campus.


South of Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium and along the West Branch of DuPage River are properties that adjoin Highlands Elementary School. The College has acquired  524 Riverview Drive, a 2.5 acre property and ranch home that faces the river toward the west. The home is in severe disrepair and uninhabitable.

“This was an opportunity to take over a property that was fast becoming an eye sore given its condition,” says Loscheider. “The home as it is cannot be restored at a reasonable cost.”

The College currently has no plans for the property but one possible option in the long-term could be using the site for a residence hall.

With the addition of the Riverview property and the Hammersmith House, the College campus acreage totals 61.5 acres.


520 S. Washington Condominium

An elegant third-floor condominium that overlooks the DuPage River and Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium from the west has become the property of North Central, thanks to a generous gift from Dick and Deanna Mandel of Naperville. The couple in 2010 also donated a wooded 43-acre parcel and log home near Dixon, IL, which has become popular for College retreats and meetings.

“We’re thankful for the gift of this condominium and the opportunity to own a residence that could offer the College additional options for housing a new dean, a president or other College leaders,” said Loscheider. “We’re excited to have new options for the College without affecting the character of the Historic District.”

North Central NOW Winter 2012