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F317 GPVH   Museum

 In 1896 Gross Point built its village hall, which today is the home of the Wilmette Historical Museum.

Our History-Towns & Villages Emerge

 

Northwestern BW

 

The diversity of the new era is evidenced by the emergence of towns and the businesses that supported them.

Wilmette was chartered in 1872. To the south, Wilmette included the land between Central Street and Isabella Street in what is now Evanston. That bit of land figured prominently in many squabbles over building a high school in New Trier Township. It ultimately became a part of Evanston in order to make the boundaries of the town of Evanston and Evanston Township the same. To the west, along Happ Road was a settlement known as Wau-bun, which became Northfield.

Ridge Road was called Deutschman’s Road, probably because most of the residents who had farms and businesses along its route were of German descent. It was the eastern boundary of the town of Gross Point, which was chartered in 1874. In 1896 Gross Point built its village hall, which today is the home of the Wilmette Historical Museum. A brochure published by the Wilmette Historical Museum says there were no less than 15 taverns within the boundaries of Gross Point. They were a source of town revenue that did not, alas, survive the course of history.

The German farmers and businessmen were rivaled in their enterprise by the real estate investors who were platting and selling lots in Wilmette, Winnetka, Kenilworth and Glencoe. Winnetka was chartered in 1869. That same year Taylorsport became Glencoe and Joseph Sears’ model village, Kenilworth, completed in 1854, was chartered.

Two events gave impetus to Township growth. One was the beginning of passenger service on the new railroad track from Chicago to Waukegan provided by the Chicago and Milwaukee Railway (later the Chicago and Northwestern Railway) in 1855. Two Wilmette citizens put up the $700 needed to build a wooden depot to entice the railroad to stop in Wilmette. The other event was the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. Many families decided to move out of the city and into the less-crowded suburbs. They bought lots and built houses on the North Shore and commuted by rail to their jobs in the city.

Read the next chapter - Getting Down To Business:  Roads, Weeds & Stray Livestock

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