Historic preservation is a link through which the memory of a community is preserved and passed onto succeeding generations. By definition, historic preservation is the thoughtful management of buildings, sites, structures, objects and landscapes. Preservation can be a tool for economic development or a mechanism to maintain a community’s individual identify and personality. Our historic resources enable us to make sense of our past, which helps us to better understand our present, and ultimately guide us in wise planning for our future. A Preservation Ordinance was enacted in 1990 that established the West Chicago Historical Preservation Commission The commission consists of seven members who are appointed by the Mayor with the consent of City Council and who have demonstrated special interests, experience or education in history, architecture or the preservation of historic resources.
East Washington Historic District
West Chicago is the first Illinois community created by the coming of the railroads – however, a few settlers owned property in the area of present-day West Chicago as early as the late 1830’s. As a protection against claim-jumpers, and to settle their open disputes, three settlers here-Edward S. Winslow, William Blackman and William R. Currier-were among the 91 signers to an agreement made on February 6, 1836 to defend each other’s claims. Known as the Big Woods Claim Society, it was the first such organization in DuPage County. Both the Currier property and the Winslow Property are located along what became Geneva Road. Winslow’s home was built before 1842 and no longer exists.
The roadway, now known as Washington Street or Geneva road was surveyed as a public highway on November 19-20, 1845, four years before the arrival of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad. Geneva Road’s western terminus was with the pioneer state road, now Illinois Route 38 that was first surveyed in 1836. Geneva Road ran east to Stacy’s Corners (originally known as Fish’s Corner’s) where it joined with the St. Charles Road (surveyed in 1843) that continued into Chicago. It is conjectured that a local road existed between State Road and the Corners before Geneva Road was officially surveyed in 1843.
Geneva Road was a busy highway connecting the wagon traffic coming from the southern Fox Valley communities (all established in the late 1830’s) to Fish’s Corners (later known as Stacy’s Corners and today known as Glen Ellyn) to connect to St. Charles Road, coming from the north and going into Chicago. All of the roadways were more than busy. St. Charles road traffic (at Stacy’s Tavern) was so dense, children found it hazardous to cross the road. Geneva Road is the site of the earliest settlement of what was to become West Chicago. It was from this intersection of Geneva Road and the track of the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad that present day West Chicago took shape.
Turner Junction Historic District
The Turner Junction Historic District is a locally designated commercial historic district that was established in 1991. It consists of approximately 80 structures that are located in the original plat of Turner, (now West Chicago), recorded in 1855.
West Chicago is the first Illinois community created by the coming of the railroads. The town began to take shape in 1849, when the tracks of the new Galena and Chicago Union Railroad, coming out of Chicago, reached this area. The original rail line was constructed through what is today the center of the historic downtown. By the 1850’s, three railroads joined here and the first commercial and residential buildings were clustered around this railroad junction.
The Turner Junction Historic District contains an interesting mix of architectural styles, with examples of several architectural periods ranging from the 1850’s to the present. The district was established to encourage maintenance and restoration of the historic elements of the building facades, to guide the design of new construction and maintain a complimentary and consistent streetscape.
West Chicago Residential Design Guideline Manual – pdf 3.3 MB
Commercial Storefront Guidelines – .pdf 3.6MB