Carpenter Street

What’s In A Street Name?

Many of the streets in Downers Grove are named for founders of Downers Grove. Our focus in this article is Carpenter Street, named in honor of founder Henry Carpenter.

Located one block west of Main Street, Carpenter Street stretches north and south. It commences at Gilbert Street on the north end, proceeds southward with a slight bend at 61st Street, and continues until reaching 67th Street. Towards the southern end, it seemingly dead ends, only to reappear briefly as a dead-end block extending south from 68th Street.

Henry Carpenter
Henry Carpenter

Henry Carpenter came to Downers Grove in 1839 when only six families lived here. Initially aspiring to become a farmer, Carpenter quickly realized it wasn’t the path suited for him. Instead, he opted to establish a general store and inn, recognizing the absence of such amenities in the village. In 1845 he bought a load of goods for $600.00 and opened his store on the trail (now Maple Avenue) in front of his house. His store started as a small business but soon grew to include groceries, dry goods, clothing, hardware, boots and shoes. Carpenter extended credit to his customers with a simple policy: “If you can tie your own shoes, you’re eligible for credit in my store.” His establishment doubled as the local Post Office and a general meeting place for the community. In 1856, he actively advocated for the creation of the Main Street Cemetery and later assumed the role of President of the Burying Ground Association in 1858. Henry played a pivotal role in the development of the early town by subdividing his 40-acre plot near Maple Avenue and Carpenter Street, selling off portions for residences and businesses. Recognizing the potential for growth, he was among the signatories of a petition to the CB&Q Railroad in 1858, urging the construction of a rail line from Aurora to Chicago through Downers Grove. The petition emphasized the village’s status as a prosperous farming community with significant agricultural produce destined for Chicago markets, making the railroad line a profitable venture for both freight and passengers. By 1864 the village saw the first trains traveling through Downers Grove. Henry Carpenter remained deeply involved in the village’s affairs, actively backing the petition for its incorporation in 1873 and subsequently serving as a trustee following its official status as a village.

For more than five decades, Carpenter resided in Downers Grove. The home he constructed on Maple Avenue, which initially housed the first store and Post Office, (and pictured here) remains standing at 1047 Maple Avenue. Upon his passing in 1891, he was fondly remembered as one of the most invaluable pioneers who contributed significantly to laying the foundation of our community, guided by principles of integrity and conscience. He left behind a legacy of a good name, far more precious than any material wealth.

Downers Grove Historical Society honored Henry Carpenter as Founder of the Year in 2019. The historical society will soon be adding a plaque (as depicted here) to his gravesite.

Recent News

Upcoming Events:

Scroll to Top