Fabyan Windmill Celebrates 100th Year

Fabyan Windmill Celebrates 100th Year

The Fabyan Forest Preserve windmill is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, and the party begins Saturday, May 16, with its official opening for the season.

An official celebration is planned for July 25, but there’s nothing wrong with a little hip, hip, hooray in May.

That was the Kane County Forest Preserve Commission members’ thinking, anyway, as they honored the volunteers who make the windmill such a beautiful and iconic place to visit. The commission passed a resolution Tuesday honoring the occasion.

Some of the history is below, but be assured, there’s plenty more, and we’ll celebrate again as the year goes on.


Resolution No. FP-R-15-05-2377

Fabyan Windmill 100th Anniversary Celebration

fabyanWindmillWHEREAS, the Fabyan Windmill is a structure of local, national and international significance; and

WHEREAS, the Fabyan Windmill was purchased in 1914 by George Fabyan, disassembled, relocated to Geneva, and reassembled on the Fabyans’ “Riverbank” estate, now known as Fabyan Forest Preserve; and

WHEREAS, the Fabyan Windmill is one of the few windmills in the world that has been restored to operate by natural wind energy. It contains German, Swedish and Dutch millwright work. The Fabyan Windmill has been called “the best example of an authentic Dutch windmill in the United States;” and

WHEREAS, the Fabyan Windmill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was depicted on a U.S. postage stamp in 1980; and

WHEREAS, 2015 marks the 100th year the Windmill has been located within the Fabyan Forest Preserve, and the Forest Preserve District of Kane County wishes to celebrate its centennial anniversary; and

WHEREAS, 2015 marks the 10th year the Volunteer Millers and Docents were established, and the Forest Preserve District of Kane County wishes to celebrate a decade of dedication and commitment by our volunteer millers and docents; and

WHEREAS, the Fabyan Windmill attracts thousands of visitors to Fabyan Forest Preserve each year; and

WHEREAS, the District has planned a number of activities this year to commemorate the Windmill’s 100th anniversary at Fabyan, including Opening Day on Saturday, May 16th and a public celebration on Saturday, July 25, 2015; and

WHEREAS, the District will solicit items from the public to be considered for inclusion in a time capsule, to be installed at the Windmill on September 2015 and to be opened in 2115.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by the Board of Commissioners of the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, and hereby proclaim 2015 as the 100th Anniversary of the Windmill at Fabyan Forest Preserve.

Passed and approved on this the 12 day of May, 2015.

About Fabyan Forest Preserve

SOURCE: Kane County Forest Preserve District website

Fabyan Forest Preserve is without question our 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 1900s, 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. Fabyan Parkway intersects with Kirk Road (same as Farnsworth Ave) and with Randall Road.