Monday, September 13, 2010

Living History: Naper Settlement and American Girl Dolls

Saturday afternoon I took Z and A to Naper Settlement, located about 45 minutes away in Naperville. Z has become consumed by an interest in history recently, her interest stoked by the historical American Girl novels she checks out from the Oak Park and elementary school libraries by the stackful.

At Naper Settlement, we went back in time to the 19th century, sitting in on class in a one-room schoolhouse, touring modest and grand homes and watching demonstrations by a blacksmith and printing press operator. Z peppered all of the docents (some of whom looked to be high school students) with questions and remembered a lot of details about the workings of old homes and covered wagons from books and her visits to other historical sites like Vance birthplace and Living History Farm in Iowa.

I was surprised that, aside from one other visitor, we were the only patrons there on a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon. With admission prices comparable to a movie ticket and all of Chicagoland a short car ride away, I was surprised to be so outnumbered by costumed reenactors.

Only 3 years old, A didn't show as much gusto for the past as her big sister, but she patiently visited all of the sites, filling my purse with a natural history treasure trove of "chestnuts, acorns and rainbow leaves" every time we stepped outside.