The Downers Grove Historical Society will honor the Penner Building at 5219-5221 Main Street as its 2018 Historic Site. Residents are invited to attend a brief ceremony on October 20th at 12:30pm to dedicate the new bronze plaque which describes its history.
This building, which was built ca1894 represents a part of the early history of Downers Grove. Conrad Penner was born in Germany in 1862 and came to America as a young man. He made his home on Maple Avenue, married and raised a family of 5 children.
Trained as a harness maker he opened his first shop on the corner of Main & Curtiss to sell harnesses made to order and all things related to the needs of the farmers in the area. He moved his shop to the Main Street location around 1920, adding his name to the top of the structure. As times changed Penner expanded his store goods to include Montford and Sterling tires. Penner also added shoe a shoe repair service offering prompt service along with selling work shoes and children’s shoes by Endicott-Johnson, advertising that these shoes would “wear like iron”.
Conrad Penner operated his shop in Downers Grove for more than 30 years. He continued to live on Maple Avenue after his retirement from the store and was buried in the Oak Hill Cemetery when he died in 1949.
The shops inside the Penner building have changed over the years but his name still can be seen on top of the building reminding us of Downers Grove’s early days.
Plaque Dedication Ceremony: Saturday, October 20th; 12:30pm in front of the building