Villa Park is rich with architectural diversity that provides the unique character of our community. Styles include three circa 1860 farmhouses, and numerous examples of Prairie, Queen Anne, American four-square, Arts and Craft, Craftsman, Bungalow, Sears mail-order catalog, English Tudor, Spanish Revival, and Dutch Colonial Revival architecture nestled among post-war Reedy ranches, and contemporary homes. There are now 40 properties that have received local landmark recognition, due to their importance to the community, and its preservation efforts.
Originally farmland, Villa Park's development story unfolds by tracing over 55 recorded subdivisions and development growth. The Villa Park subdivision was recorded in 1908, and the Ardmore subdivision in 1910. In 1914, these two merged, and were incorporated into a village called Ardmore, and later renamed Villa Park. The interurban railroad brought growth and prosperity into the village, along with the establishment of the former Ovaltine factory in 1917. The Ardmore Station, built in 1910, is an exemplary example of prairie-style architecture, and was considered state of the art at its time. The streamlined electric Chicago-Aurora-Elgin Railroad brought prospective land and housing buyers into Villa Park on their Sunday excursion trips. This station, along with the Villa Avenue Station built in 1929, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, due to their importance to American history.
In 2005, the Historic Preservation Commission announced the recognition of Villa Park having a rare example of a Frank Lloyd Wright prefabricated house at 346 East Highland Avenue. Dr. William Allin Storrer, a world renowned expert on Frank Lloyd Wright, has researched this house and has authenticated it in his book "Frank Lloyd Wright Companion." In May 4, 1917, the Chicago Tribune newspaper advertised a model of the Richards American System-Built Homes modular house that is an exact replica of the "Heisen House" at Highland. It was derived from the fire-proof home concept for $5,000. Frank Lloyd Wright had desired to make his homes more affordable and available across the country by mix and matching modules, and supplying cut lumber to the site. Because of World War I, his plans were not realized.
Another world-class example of a real architecture gem can be found at the Villa Park Bank building. Chairman Bill Stege's extensive research has documented that the building's design originated from architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's original 1946 design proposal for the Cantor Drive-in project that was never built. It is one of the earliest examples of the concept of "universal space." In 1956, Mies had allowed his graduate IIT architecture student, Peter Roesch, to utilize the Cantor concept for developing his master's thesis for a church.
The architectural firm of Hammond and Roesch was later contracted by Mr. Stege's father, to utilize this design for the new bank building that was built in 1964. It boasts all glass walls and has two exterior exposed steel trusses, supported by four steel columns. This was innovative for the time as banks had been previously constructed utilizing concrete and stone massing to provide visual security that your money is safe.