Villa Park is enriched with a storied past, which dates back to the early 1900s. The current-day village was once two separate subdivisions, Ardmore and Villa Park, and was initially incorporated as the Village of Ardmore in 1914. The name was changed to the Village of Villa Park in 1917.
Two wealthy men, “Colonel” J.L. Calhoun and Charles C. Heisen figured prominently in the early development. The Wander Company of Bern, Switzerland opened its only American plant, Ovaltine, in 1917. The Ovaltine factory was eventually converted to luxury apartments.
In 2008, the prominent smoke stack towering 170 feet tall was imploded amidst a crowd of onlookers. A committee was formed of volunteer citizens, to erect a monument in honor of the factory and the many residents it employed.
The area experienced prosperous times, with the end of WWI and the presence of the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin Railroad. It was around this time, in 1920, that George Matthew Smith and his son, George Cyrus Smith, decided to invest in Villa Park real estate and founded the first Real Estate office in Villa Park; G. M. Smith & Son Realtors.
Villa Park began to flourish, with its population soaring from 8,000 in the 1930s to its peak of 25,000 in 1965. The community continued to thrive and develop, and today is home to more than 22,000 residents who enjoy a high quality life in Chicago’s western suburbs. Superior schools, unmatched parks and recreation facilities and a wide variety of housing are readily available, while major medical resources are just a stone’s throw away.
Villa Park Historical Museum
Villa Park’s rich heritage is well maintained by volunteers of the Villa Park Historical Society, which operates the Villa Park Historical Museum. Located within a former CA&E train station built in 1929, the Museum showcases new and rotating exhibits throughout the year, as well as permanent exhibits, including “The History of Villa Park” and displays incorporating CA&E Railroad artifacts, the history of Ovaltine and pictures of Sears
Roebuck mail-order homes. The museum serves as the official Visitor and Public Resource Center for the Village of Villa Park. The Third Rail Gift Shop and “Grandma’s Attic” are filled with gently used resale items. The Museum, located at 220 S. Villa Ave., can be contacted at 630-941-0223 or www.vphistoricalsociety.com.