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Downtown Glen Ellyn recognized for historical significance

Published: Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 9:28 a.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013 8:58 p.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
The oldest buildings in the Glen Ellyn Downtown North Historic District date back to the 1890s. The district was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places June 28.

GLEN ELLYN – Downtown Glen Ellyn soon will join the village’s growing list of sites that have been recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

With three local organizations dedicated to preserving Glen Ellyn history – the village’s Historic Preservation Commission, the Glen Ellyn Historical Society and Citizens for Glen Ellyn Preservation – it comes as no surprise that six village landmarks can be found on the register, more than many towns in DuPage County.

“That’s how (others) see Glen Ellyn, as this charming suburb, because of the architecture and Lake Ellyn,” said Jan Shupert-Arick, executive director of the Glen Ellyn Historical Society.

Sites on the National Register include the Glen Ellyn Main Street Historic District, the Alfred A. Schiller House, Stacy’s Tavern and the George Baker House, which is in unincorporated DuPage County near Glen Ellyn.

The newly nominated Glen Ellyn Downtown North and South Historic districts are expected to be added soon, pending the approval of the keeper of the National Register, who almost always agrees with states’ nominations, said Andrew Heckenkamp, National Register coordinator for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

After receiving approval from the Glen Ellyn Village Board, the village’s Historic Preservation Commission nominated the downtown districts about a year ago.

The community that came to be known as Glen Ellyn first started in the Stacy’s Corners area in 1834. After the railroad came to town, residents and businesses began the gradual move south to be near the tracks, where the current downtown sits.

Divided by the railroad tracks, the Glen Ellyn Downtown North and South Historic districts run along Main Street. Combined, the districts stretch from Hillside to Pennsylvania avenues and include parts of the roads that intersect with Main Street, according to the village’s National Register of Historic Places applications.

The districts feature notable structures, such as the Glen Art Theatre, 540 Crescent Blvd., and Civic Center, 535 Duane St.

Being recognized by the National Register of Historic Places encourages pride among current businesses and attracts new businesses and shoppers, as well as tourists, to the area, said Historic Preservation Commission Chair Lee Marks, who spoke with other communities to see how listings have affected them.

Marks said much of what makes Glen Ellyn historically unique is its blend of architecture.

Architectural styles represented by structures in the village include Greek Revival, Victorian, Arts and Crafts, Colonial Revival, Mission, local vernacular styles, modern contemporary and ranch, he said.

The nominations for the downtown business districts were approved by the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council on June 28.

Heckenkamp, whose agency is charged with reviewing register applications and passing them along to the council, said the districts represent various aspects of Glen Ellyn’s history.

“They are representative examples of the commerical history of Glen Ellyn and the commercial architectural history,” Heckenkamp said.

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