Naperville’s Vintage Vacuum Collector

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Owen Perkins is the owner of Naperville’s own Central Vacuum on 5th Avenue.

“We sell and service portable and built-in vacuum cleaners,” said Owen Perkins, Owner of Central Vacuum.

But most people would be floored to find out that the Naperville North alumni has collected over 50 modern and vintage vacuums, like this 110 year-old model from 1911.

“I’ve had some kind of vacuum collection since I was a young kid. A general interest in machines or how things work manifested in the first machine that really you could be in contact with that was bigger than just an appliance sitting on the kitchen counter but it wasn’t a machine that was just stationary like your- like the washing machine or the dishwasher or the furnace never did anything for me,” said Perkins.

Vintage Vacuums

Perkins would take apart his parents’ vacuums from a young age, and spent his free time at Central Vacuum, which was then Wehrli’s Vacuum Center owned by Bill Wehrli.

“I was coming in here and bugging Bill back when I was in Kennedy Junior High,” said Perkins.

In 2018 Perkins bought the store and turned it into Central Vacuum, making a lifelong hobby a career.

“I’m blessed to have a passion but I’m really blessed to have a passion that you can make a living doing,” said Perkins.

Collection of Retro Relics

But it’s not just vintage vacuums Perkins has a knack for collecting: he takes in all kinds of retro relics.

A household vacuum might be something commonplace today, but when the history of an invention is laid out in front of you, it’s hard not to appreciate the innovations that led to our modern day cleaning conveniences.

“That’s the refined art, that’s after they’ve gone through and they’ve perfected all the little details. I like the stuff that’s really early that the inventor in his garage came up with,” said Perkins.

Naperville News 17’s Ryan Skryd Reports.


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