Lighthouse Making Comeback at Fabyan Forest Preserve
Have you noticed anything going up at the Fabyan Forest Preserve lately?
The Forest Preserve District of Kane County mentions on its Facebook page that progress on the historic lighthouse is coming together nicely.
The lighthouse is an iconic image on the Fox River, a 28-foot structure that’s part of the legacy of the “Colonel” George Fabyan and his wife, Nelle — a reminder of the days when the Fabyan property was a kind of Xanadu that included an imported Dutch windmill, Japanese Garden, menagerie of animals Greek revival swimming pond and villa designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
The Forest Preserve removed the lighthouse for repairs in September 2014. The foundation work was done and some structural steel and concrete work was completed prior to the recent construction work.
The lighthouse is part of the Fabyan Forest Preserve Island Restoration project.
About Fabyan Forest Preserve
SOURCE: Forest Preserve District of Kane County website
Fabyan Forest Preserve is without question the district’s most heavily used preserve, owing to its location on the Fox River and its numerous natural and historic features. Thousands of visitors spent hours fishing along its river shores and thousands more jogged and biked along the trails and across the river bridge. Others explored the historic elements remaining in the preserve, especially the Fabyan Villa Museum, the Japanese Garden and the Fabyan Windmill. On any given Saturday in spring summer or fall, weddings and photography sessions take place in the Garden.
Fabyan Forest Preserve was once part of the large country estate of George and Nelle Fabyan. They came to the Fox River Valley in the early 1900’s, and bought a farmhouse and ten acres south of Geneva on the west bank of the Fox. Over the following 20 years they acquired 300-plus acres and developed the property into a fabulous estate they called “Riverbank.” After their deaths in 1936 and 1939, the Forest Preserve District of Kane County purchased 235 acres of the estate and created the preserve.
Riverbank became a showplace in the state with its model farm, extensive greenhouses, windmill, Japanese-style and other ornamental gardens, arbors and grotto, and pools and ponds. In 1907, the Fabyans contracted Frank Lloyd Wright to redesign the farmhouse into a larger and modernized home they called “The Villa.”
While the Fabyans lived on the estate they employed more than 60 people in positions as maids, gardeners, chauffeurs, scientists, and farmers. They even employed a sculptor to create numerous stone and concrete fountains, statues, and furniture, as well as cages for the various wild animals the brought to Riverbank. Many of these structures remain in the preserve today.
The Villa, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, is now a museum dedicated to the history of Riverbank and the story of the Fabyans, and houses their varied collections, some furnishings, and many historic photographs. The Japanese Garden has been partially restored and replanted. The Windmill, also a National Historic Place, was completely restored in 2003-4. All have public visiting hours.
Fabyan is located south of Geneva on the Fox River, with entrances on both Route 25 and Route 31, just north of Fabyan Parkway.
About the Forest Preserve District of Kane County
The Forest Preserve District of Kane County acquires, holds and maintains land to preserve natural and historic resources, habitats, flora and fauna. The district restores, restocks, protects and preserves open space for the education, recreation and pleasure of Kane County citizens. For more information, visit the district’s website or find them on social media via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Also, sign up for the quarterly TreeLine Newsletter.