Looking at Downtown Naperville today, it’s hard to imagine how it went from being a center of a small farming community to being one of the busiest economic centers in the state.
“The downtown 20s and 30s were preparing for this kind of development,” said Jeanne Schultz Angel of the Naperville Heritage Society.
Barenbrugges Come to Naperville
Naperville was growing and families were constantly moving to the area, including Joe and Laura Barenbrugge. They returned to Laura’s hometown of Naperville from Dunkirk, Indiana, in 1924, though it wasn’t exactly voluntary.
“It turned out that one day the Ku Klux Klan came to them because dad was Catholic,” said Joe and Laura’s son Francis. “And the Ku Klux Klan didn’t like the Catholics and they threatened to burn down the building it was in.”
The couple and their seven children rented the building at 16 W. Jefferson Avenue for $ 150 a month. They lived upstairs and downstairs, Joe opened his shop, the Tasty Bakery.
The beginnings of the delicious bakery
They wasted no time getting involved in the community. On the opening day in 1926, they gave away hundreds of loaves of bread to families in Naperville.
It wasn’t the only bakery in town, but Tasty Bakery quickly became a local favorite.
“I don’t know Dad had any specialties,” Francis said. “What he was really good at were the chocolate eclairs, and he made a cream cone that he dusted with powdered sugar. And they were excellent and he was proud of that. “
And with every eclair, cake, or even cigar sold, Joe opened the old cash register he’d bought in 1925.
Delicious bakery changes hands
Joe finally sold the bakery to his son Carl in 1952. In 1968, Carl sold them to Earl Aronson, and Tasty Bakery wasn’t a Barenbrugge business for the first time in 43 years.
Aronson moved the bakery to Main Street in 1979, and the original register ended up in a resale store.
Rediscover the register
Then, in March 2021, a man named Steven Fay posted a photo on Facebook saying he had just discovered a hidden certificate called Barenbrugge in an ancient register that he owned.
“Because of this Facebook post, we were all contacted by different people, but at first we didn’t realize that they were all working towards the same goal, which is to see if Steven Fay is finally ready to sell the till back to my grandfather Fran”, said Scott Barenbrugge, Francis’ grandson.
Francis’ son Dirk went to pick it up and learned that Fay had bought the register used around 1980 and that it had been in his house for more than four decades.
“He told me the story of how he looked all over the cash register and couldn’t see a serial number or anything,” said Dirk. “And thought, ‘I have no idea what this thing is worth or where it came from or anything. And he accidentally pressed one of the buttons and pulled out the drawer, looked under the drawer, and there was the receipt for the receipt of the cash register from 1925 to my grandfather. “
Fay sold them the registry for $ 75, and on April 2, Francis was reunited with the registry that served his father and brother for 43 years.
Signs of change
The till is now at Fran’s home, proudly next to a drawing of the original bakery his father founded almost 100 years ago.
“We found a place for it and I’m very happy to have it with us,” said Francis.
It’s hard to quantify how much Downtown Naperville has changed since the Tasty Bakery opened, but something like an old cash register can give us an idea of how much we’ve changed.
Casey Krajewski from Naperville News 17 reports.
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