History of Libertyville
The Village of Libertyville is located in south central Lake County, approximately 37 miles from Chicago and seven miles west of Lake Michigan. The Village is an established residential community and has traditionally served as a major market and service center for central Lake County. The population of the Village, nearly 22,000 (Census), has more than doubled since 1960 as the Village has shared in the economic growth of the Chicago metropolitan area. An ongoing effort to restore and preserve historic Libertyville contributes to the traditional home town atmosphere in the Village.
While now, a basically built out community, the Village has expanded from its original borders and is currently bound roughly by Saint Mary’s Road to the east, Midlothian Road on the west, Route 137 to the north, and Hollister Drive to the south. Libertyville today is a modern community that embraces its important history.
Images provided by the Libertyville Historical Society.
Vardin's Grove to Independence Grove
The history of modern Libertyville begins in the early 1830s when English settler George Vardin and his family arrived to the area. The small settlement that developed was known as "Vardin's Grove." In 1836, during the Independence Day celebration, area residents voted to rename the town "Independence Grove."
Mail service from Chicago to Milwaukee was established in 1836, prompting area residents to petition for a post office. The request was granted and the first post office was established in the former Vardin cabin on April 16, 1837. The Village was also registered under the name "Libertyville" on that day because an Independence Grove post office already existed in the state at that time.
More Name Changes
The name of the Village was changed again when, with the creation of Lake County in 1839, Libertyville was made the county seat. The new name, "Burlington," lasted until the county seat was moved to Little Fort (now Waukegan) in 1841. At that time, the Village reclaimed the name "Libertyville."
In 1881, the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad (now the Metra Milwaukee District North commuter line) was extended to Libertyville. Rapid expansion of the Village resulted, with schools, churches, stores, mills, lumber yards, and homes being built. The Village was incorporated in 1882, with John Locke as its first president.
Ansel B. Cook House
The Cook House was deeded to the Village in 1920 for use as a library. Following the completion of the present Cook Memorial Library in 1968, the Cook home became the headquarters of the Libertyville Historical Society. The Cook home, maintained in a Victorian setting, is now a museum of local history open to the public at designated times throughout the year.
David Adler Cultural Center
The estate of distinguished Chicago architect David Adler was left to the Village following his death in 1949. The David Adler Cultural Center was founded in the Adler home in 1980, and because of its unique site and multi-disciplinary programming, has developed into an historical and cultural presence in Lake County and the surrounding region.
Want to learn more about local history? The Libertyville Historical Society located at the Ansel B. Cook Victorian Museum House has a wealth of knowledge. Additional information is also available at the Cook Memorial Public Library.