Oak Cottage: 2023 Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois

“Oak Cottage is so much more than an iconic American white farmhouse; it is a window into the cultural heritage of the Naperville area. The cottage marries a native local limestone foundation with a Vermont marble fireplace the family brought with them when they moved out from Vermont in 1850. The cottage has been witness to the full circle transformation of the prairie into farmland and back again into prairie as part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. Oak Cottage served as the hub of the Greene family farm, which was an economic engine for DuPage County. At a time when Naperville’s agricultural history is being actively celebrated in museums and honored in bronze statues, it is important to preserve its original agricultural structures in situ.”

– Becky Simon, President, Naperville Preservation


23W171 Hobson Road, Naperville, DuPage County




William Briggs Greene


Forest Preserve District of DuPage County (FPDDC)


Oak Cottage was the vernacular home of William Briggs Greene and his family, among the early settlers of DuPage County. William’s grandson William Bertram Greene had the foresight to preserve the farmstead to carry on his family legacy by donating it to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County (FPDDC) in 1971 and establishing an endowment for the perpetual guardianship of the land and buildings. In 1998, the FPDDC made a commitment via ordinance to care for Oak Cottage and its accompanying Greene Barn in perpetuity. Today, Oak Cottage and the Greene Barn together provide a window into American agricultural settlement and the continuing development patterns of DuPage County.


The FPDDC hired Stantec to complete framework plans for the Blackwell, Greene Valley and Waterfall Glen Forest Preserves. Stantec’s first draft framework plan for Greene Valley, released in June 2022, recommended demolition of Oak Cottage. After public pushback, a second draft recommended documenting the history and structure of Oak Cottage and establishing a timeframe of three years or less for a third-party to propose a new use. If no new use can be found within the specified timeframe, Oak Cottage may still be demolished.


Local advocates would like the FPDDC to appoint a Greene Valley Heritage Center Ad Hoc Committee and support a feasibility study to determine an adaptive reuse path for Oak Cottage and Greene Barn that includes community-facing uses. A Request for Expressions of Interest would help to identify interested partners. Requests for funding support can be made to the Greene Family Forest Preserve Endowment Fund and the Friends of the Greene Barn and Oak Cottage Fund. While up to three years may seem like plenty of time to find a new use, the chances of success are highest if efforts begin immediately.


  • Sign a petition to support public use of Oak Cottage and the Greene Barn at Change.org.
  • Share your thoughts with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Board of Commissioners by emailing President Daniel Hebrard at dhebreard@dupageforest.org.
  • Share your thoughts with Stantec Consulting, by emailing Todd Meyer, Lead Master Plan Consultant at todd.meyer@stantec.com.

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