HISTORY - A TIME LINE OF EVENTS
1816- 1900 - A Community is Born
The Beaubien Tavern
This 1830’s inn served as a tollhouse on Plank Road which ran through Lisle
(Lester Schrader. Courtesy: Naperville Heritage Society.)
Lisle was originally home to the Pottawatomie Indians. In 1816, the U. S. government negotiated with these Native Americans to relinquish their land, which included the future Village of Lisle. Rich farm land and abundant water resources made this area ripe for development. When Illinois was granted statehood and the Erie Canal opened, settlers flocked to the area.
In 1832, James and Luther Hatch staked their claim to land bordering what is now Ogden Avenue. James opened a creamery, wagon and blacksmith shop; Luther opened a general store. Other settlers soon followed and the increasing population prompted the need to build schools, churches and other community amenities.
As early as 1833, members of the First Congregational Church of DuPage were worshipping in Lisle. By 1834, John Thompson was taking care of Lisle's postal services and stagecoaches traveled between Chicago and Aurora. The first frame schoolhouse in the county is said to have been built in Lisle in 1837. A cemetery was located on land owned by James Hatch. Many of the area's first settlers were buried in the Lisle Cemetery, which is still located just east of Downtown Lisle on Ogden Avenue.
First Congregational Church
In 1839, DuPage County was organized and separated from Cook County. Beau Bien Tavern, one of Lisle’s first businesses, was built in the 1830s, and quickly became a favorite gathering place in the Village. In 1843, the Riedy family came to Lisle and opened the Riedy Hardware Store, a business which remained open for more than 100 years. Other early businesses included the Riedy and Engleschall timber and grist mill (1888) and the Lisle Creamery (1895). Brick making, dairy, and agriculture were the main economic interests.
In 1850, voters opted for the township form of government, which persists in modified form today. DuPage County was geographically divided into nine townships, with Lisle Township being the south central one. It was not until 1956, nearly one hundred years later, that the Village of Lisle was officially incorporated within Lisle Township.
The year 1850 also marked the extension of the Southwest Plank Road form Chicago through Lisle. This road, now known as Ogden Avenue, featured tollgates at five places along the route. A tollgate was located in front of Mark Beaubien's Tavern/Inn in western Lisle, which served as a convenient place to stop during a journey to or from Chicago.
In 1863, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy railroad extended its line through Lisle, providing a vital commercial link to this growing community. The original train depot, which was built the same year, burned down and a new depot was built in 1875.
Lisle Train Depot
From 1861-1865, over half of Illinois men fought in the Civil War. After the war ended, men returned home and Lisle’s population and economy grew. A new school house was erected in 1873 and the first volunteer Fire Department, which used hand and horse drawn equipment, was organized in 1890. The Lisle Cemetery Association formally incorporated in 1883 under Illinois state law.
Religion and education continued to play an important part in Lisle’s history. In 1898, monks from the St. Procopius Abby came to Lisle to open the St. Joseph Orphanage. They also opened the St. Procopius Academy (for boys) and the Sacred Heart Academy (for girls). These two institutions merged in 1967 to become Benet Academy. The monks also founded St. Procopius College, which was renamed Illinois Benedictine College in 1971 and Benedictine University in 1996.
1900 - 1955 The Middle Years
By the turn of the century, the area that was to become Lisle was establishing itself as a bustling community. Author James C. Coggin III noted in The History of Lisle that “in the first seventy years the population of Lisle Township would barely miss doubling. By 1920 it was 3,369.”
The community offered many amenities to the people arriving from Chicago and other areas. Near the end of the 19th Century, the first plat was laid out by Simon Engleschall and surveyed by H.F. Vallette. The subdivision offered gravel streets, planted trees, and wooden sidewalks.
More services became available, establishing the rural community as a small town. During the 1920’s, electricity and limited phone service became available, and the fire department acquired a motorized engine.
Julius Morton was the founder of Arbor Day and his son, Joy, shared his love of nature. In 1921, Joy Morton, owner of the Morton Salt Company, transformed his family’s private estate into the public gem known today as The Morton Arboretum.
The Morton Arboretum encompasses 1,700 acres and showcases woodlands, wetlands, gardens and innovative exhibits.
Fall at The Morton Arboretum
As technologies advanced, residents enjoyed improved phone service, new street lights on Main Street thanks to the Lisle Business Men’s Association (both 1946) and gas heating (1953). Another important advancement was the publication of the Lisle Advertiser newspaper in 1938 (renamed the Lisle Sun in 1965). The Lisle Advertiser allowed residents to focus on local news rather than that of neighboring towns.
Religion remained an important focus for residents. New churches were established, including the St. Joan of Arc parish and school (1927) and the Lisle Bible Church (1933).
In 1929 Lisle suffered the effects of the Great Depression, but being a farming community, it was one of the first to recover and continued to grow. The “Great Fire of 1939” damaged the post office and destroyed half a block in Downtown Lisle. While rebuilding occurred, residents began to express the desire to incorporate so they could engage a full time police department, make road improvements and manage storm and sewer water more effectively.
In 1941 World War II affected the nation, and Lisle was no exception. Businesses closed and some stopped delivery to save on materials neded for the war effort. “Residents were instructed to turn off all lights in their houses from 10:00 to 10:30 p.m. when the air raid siren sounded,” writes Coggin. Others helped with fundraisers and additional war-related drives. North Central College and Lisle Township were called upon to help house soldiers.
Throughout the 1940, the stamina and determination of Lisle residents was often tested by torrential rains and floods. So much water covered the streets that people used canoes to traverse the area and damage reoccurred after each flood.
June 23, 1956 - Lisle Becomes a Village
Talk of incorporating Lisle as a Village began as early as January 1939 when the editor of the Lisle Advertiser, Charles Rice, asked readers if they thought the area would be better off incorporated. The issue arose again in 1950 when the Lisle Civic Association, chaired by Thomas Malloy, studied its pros and cons.
In 1952, a vote on incorporation was defeated 425 to 301. Of those voting against, several worried about the higher taxes and greater “city atmosphere” that incorporation would bring. On the positive side, others foresaw the possibility of a full time police department, storm and sanitary sewers, improved roads, a library, recreation center and parks.
Despite its 1952 defeat, the issue of incorporation still prevailed was supported by many prominent residents including A.J. Meadle, Anton J. Stupay, A.L. Koopman, Lewis Melton, and George Linchester.
On June 23, 1956, residents voted to incorporate with the final vote 287 ballots against and 606 for incorporation. Lisle had become a Village! The first incorporated area was bounded by the DuPage River and Yender Avenue on the west; Maple Avenue on the South; Meridian and Chelsea on the East; and Warrenville Road, Oldham, and Middleton on the North.
In August 1956, Thomas Malloy was elected President of the first Village Board; William C. Schultz, Jr. was elected Village Clerk; and John Girard was chosen Police Magistrate.
1956 - 1992 - The Growth of a Community
After incorporation, trustees worried about how they were to run the fledgling community as the Village's first operating budget was only $33,000. With help from the County sheriff, the Lisle Police Department was formed with its first police car being rented.
Despite its rough beginnings, Lisle continued to develop and improve. To accommodate the increasing number of residents, more housing was established with the completion of Oakview subdivision in 1956. As the community continued to grow, new subdivisions developed including Four Lakes (1964), Beau Bien (1967), Shadowood (1973), Green Trails (1975) and others.
With advances in technology, communication in Lisle became easier. Rotary telephone service to private lines was initiated in 1956 and mail service to approximately 1,100 homes began in April 1958.
Many businesses decided to locate in the growing community. The Lisle Savings and Loan received its charter in 1959 and opened for business in 1960. The construction of the Western Electric (AT&T) plant in 1968 led to the influx of more businesses including Lockformer, Molex, Tellabs, Chicago Furnace, and others.
The increase in population necessitated the need for additional public schools. Classes began at Schiesher School in autumn 1956. In 1957, the Lisle Community High School opened its doors to 200 students. Other schools soon followed with the opening of Tate Woods School (1960), Lisle Junior High School (1962) and Meadows School (1965).
In 1972, the Lisle elementary and high school districts merged forming Lisle Community Unit School District 202. As residential areas continued to grow from the 1970’s on, substantial numbers of students also began attending Naperville School District 203. The new Lisle High School was built in 1973 (the former building now houses the current Lisle Junior High School). College level courses were and are still available at Illinois Benedictine College (now Benedictine University).
District 202 Lisle High School
Community services developed in the area as well. The Lisle Library District, founded in 1965, offered a wide variety of information and reference materials to the community. The current facility was built in two phases during the 1980’s. A children's department, self-contained audio-visual department, meeting rooms, and adult quiet rooms are some of its features.
Park District's Community Park
In an effort to offer more recreational activities, the Lisle Park District formed in 1967. Since its establishment, the District has opened the Lisle Community Center, the Meadows Center, Sea Lion Aquatic Park, River Bend Golf Course and numerous neighborhood playgrounds and parks offering amenities of tennis courts, ballfields, and picnic areas totaling over 447 acres. In addition, the Park District has cooperative agreements with School Districts 202 and 203 for joint use of facilities, offers year-round programs to all residents, and is a member of the Southeast Association of Special Parks and Recreation (SEASPAR), an organization that offers leisure activities to the physically challenged. Lisle's signature event, The Eyes to the Skies Hot Air Balloon Festival, began in 1981.
Public services such as police and fire prevention improved. The Lisle Fire Protection District initially formed as a volunteer firefighting brigade and maintained this status until 1972 when the first full-time firefighters were hired. In 1978, the department was renamed the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District to reflect the area served. Ever striving to keep equipment as modern as possible, new trucks were purchased and fire stations built. In 1990 the Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District became the first in the country to receive an Insurance Services Organization (ISO) “1” rating — a rating still maintained by the Fire District.
In 1983, Village authorities signed an agreement with the DuPage Water Commission to purchase Lake Michigan water, and construction of the new water delivery system began. By 1992, Lisle residents received delivery of Lake Michigan water from the DuPage Water Commission through the Lisle Water Distribution System.
The Illinois Tollway Authority approved plans for the development of the North-South Tollway (I-355) and improvements for the East-West Tollway (expanded I-5 became I-88). As work on the intersecting tollways progressed, Lisle became a popular “crossroads” spurring corporate development and incentives to locate in the area. The 88 acre AT&T Campus, (home to Lucent Technologies, now the new home of Navistar), located at 2600 Warrenville Road, was a major force in shaping the development of the I-88 Corporate Corridor along the East-West Tollway corridor.
The creation and expansion of interstates I-88 and I-355 positioned Lisle at the heart of a major transportation network. Vehicular transportation was supported by the Metra commuter rail line which transported people into Chicago. In addition, O’Hare, Midway and DuPage County airports were located within 35 minutes of Lisle. Businesses flocked to this very accessible Chicago suburb.
Beginning in the late 1980’s, several office parks were developed to accommodate the area's expanding commerce. These areas include the Corporetum Office Campus, Arboretum Lakes, Corporetum Towers, Corporate Lakes, Corporate West and Central Park of Lisle.
Arboretum Lakes Grounds
1993 - Present - A Mature Community
The railroad continues to play an important role in Lisle's history. Lisle is one of the busiest stops in the entire Burlington Northern Sante Fe Metra rail system, transporting commuters to Chicago in 35 minutes.
Lisle residents are committed to preserving a link to the past. When a new train station was built in 1978, the old historic railroad depot was restored as a museum and relocated to the Museums of Station Park campus. The Lisle Heritage Society was organized to maintain this rich heritage. The society’s goals include assisting the Lisle Park District in restoration and preservation of the Musuems of Station Park and to provide fundraising activities to help acquire additional artifacts. Lisle's slogan was “Preserving Our Past, Building Our Future.”
Museums at Lisle Station Park
Today the Village of Lisle is a community rich in natural beauty that blends technology and business with hometown appeal. It is nestled between the East-West (I-88) and North-South (I-355) Tollways.
The seeds that were planted in Lisle’s past have grown, shaping Lisle’s destiny. Today, Lisle’s population has increased to 22,390 (2010 Census). The Morton Arboretum is world renowned and continues to evolve, offering some of the most innovative interactive exhibits such as the “Children’s Garden and “The Maze.” A new Visitor’s Center contains a nature inspired gift shop and the Gingko Café, a restaurant with floor to ceiling windows overlooking scenic Meadow Lake. This community gem has been the inspiration for the Village’s brand as “The Arboretum Village.”
Benedictine University has maintained its catholic foundation while striving for academic excellence and has earned a national reputation for being one of the best universities in the country.
In 2003, the Village of Lisle and Benedictine University embarked on a joint venture to build a state of the art sports complex.
The premier Village of Lisle/Benedictine Sports Complex opened in 2004 and can accommodate a diverse array of sports activities including football, baseball, lacrosse, track, baseball and softball.
Village of Lisle/Benedictine Sports Complex
The innovative 57,000 square foot Bulls/Sox Training Academy offers state of the art professional instruction in baseball and basketball and contains a full size replica of the basketball court used by the Bulls at the United Center.
Benet Academy high school continues to enjoy a strong academic reputation and is expanding. Two other universities have joined the community, National-Louis University and North Wood University.
The popular Eyes to the Skies Hot Air Balloon Festival expanded into an event that attracts thousands of visitors to Lisle each year over the July 4th weekend.
Activities include hot air balloon launches, balloon glows, a craft show, food court, concerts and children’s activities.
In 2006, a new French Market opened in downtown Lisle and offered a diverse array of high quality merchandise under colorful open air canopies.
The Park District owns/or maintains 447 acres and includes the award winning Sea Lion Aquatic Park, the River Bend Golf Course and Wheatland, a Midwestern Eatery and Tap. The Museums of Station Park complex features the restored train depot, Beau Bien Tavern, Blacksmith Shop and other historic buildings. Each year, the Park District hosts Depot Days, which recogizes the importance of the railroad in Lisle's development.
In answer to the demand generated from business, sports and recreational activities, four branded hotels opened in Lisle: the Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and the Wyndham Hotel and Executive Meeting Center. All of the hotels continually undergo renovations and offer visitors high quality accommodations. The Lisle Convention and Visitor’s Bureau offers assistance to groups and individuals seeking to visit Lisle.
Lisle Convention and Visitor's Bureau
The I-88 Corporate Corridor has continued to expand and is the home to major corporations such as Navistar, SunCoke, McCain Foods, Unilever and Ikon. These businesses appreciate Lisle's strategic location, Class A office campuses, prestigious nature based environment and a high speed fiber optic communications network.
Class A Office Space
High quality residential subdivisions continue to develop. In addition, two new retirement communities have opened to offer choices to our mature residents who want to remain in their community.
A Master Plan serves as the blueprint for growth and development in the downtown. In 2003, the Village built a new state of the art police station and Village Hall in the prairie style design. A lovely Garden Walk was created on Main Street.
Downtown Lisle completed a $20 million redevelopment, which included the installation of a beautiful new prairie themed streetscape featuring decorative new sidewalks, streets, lighting, benches and a dramatic prairie themed fountain. Extensive planting areas and trees connect the downtown to The Garden Walk. New transit oriented mixed use developments are planned for the downtown.
Facade Grants have given storefronts fresh, new prairie style facades. Downtown redevelopment is also attracting new restaurants and businesses such as the Janor Sports, the Robert Kelly Studio, Contempo Dance Academy, Tailored Space Cabinetry, Wild Bran, Creme de la Creme, Traviata Chocolate and Gelato Cafe and more.
An entire block of floodplain property was transformed into a storm water retention basin to faciliate quality redevelopment of Downtown Lisle and effectively manage storm water. The area, now called PrairieWalk Pond, is a beautiful new 4.5 acre natural area that serves as the gateway into the downtown. A $400,000 OSLAD Grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources helped transform the site into a wonderful recreational area.
Dragonfly Landing Splash Pad
The site now features a two-acre pond with lighted walking paths, a preserved wetland, a gazebo, seating areas, scenic overlooks, native landscaping and dramatic fountains, which turn color at night. Dragonfly Landing, a children's play area within PrairieWalk Pond includes a splash pad, play equipment and a shelter with a living or green roof.
While beautiful, the project effectively transformed a challenging flood plain situation and was awarded the 2009 Stormwater Mitigation Project of the Year from the Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management.
On July 19, 2010, the Village Board approved the Ogden Avenue Corridor Master Plan. This plan will guide the redevelopment of the busy Ogden commercial corridor, much like the Downtown Master Plan guided redevelopment of the Central Business District.
As "The Arboretum Village," Lisle has always had a great appreciation for nature. That appreciation has expanded to include a green or sustainable focus. Many Lisle businesses are members of the Sustainable Lisle Business Partnership or "Green By Choice" and offer green products/services while incorporation sustainable practices in their operations. The Green Directory provides a detailed listing of members and their offerings.
In 2011, the Village welcomed two new major corporate headquarters. Navistar is relocating its international headquarters to an 88 acre campus (the former site of Lucent) along the prestigous I-88 Corporate Corridor. SunCoke has relocated to Lisle from Tennessee and is also located in the Corporate Corridor.
Navistar Corporate Headquarters
As the Village of Lisle continues to evolve, it remains a treasured gem to its residents, businesses and visitors. With its close proximity to Chicago and its small town charm, Lisle truly offers the best of both worlds. In 2007, Lisle was named one of Money Magazine’s Top 20 “Best Places To Live” in America, which reflects the economic opportunity and high quality of life the Village offers.