715 N. Milwaukee Avenue - Town Hall/American Legion Building
The Libertyville Town Hall celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2019. The Libertyville Township building committee, chaired by Ansel B. Cook, commissioned architect W.W. Boyington and builders W.D. and Frank Price and ground was broken May 26, 1894 with a goal for the work to be completed in 60 days. The building was completed in early August. On August 25, 1894, the Lake County Democratic convention was the first event held in the new hall. The Libertyville American Legion Post #329, founded in 1919, began renting the building in 1925 and eventually purchased the building from Libertyville Township in 1973. Libertyville Township continued to use the hall until 1982 when they moved to a new building on Merrill Court.
Backstory and Context
Township government was established in Illinois in 1850. Libertyville Township government met in the local school house which was at that time located close to where the Picnic Basket is today (2020). In 1860, the Township purchased the Congregational Church building, built in 1845, which sat on the same lot as the current building.
At the April 1894 annual township meeting, a building committee of three - Martin Mellody, J.E. Holcomb, and Ansel B. Cook, chairman - was elected to oversee the construction of a new Town Hall. Motions were passed to build a brick, one story building with a stone basement. Architect William W. Boyington and builders William D. and Frank Price of Chicago, all business associates of Cook, were granted the building contracts. The ceiling, cupola, and cornices were to be imported German sheet steel stamped and installed by the local Fred F. Bischoff & Co. The new building cost $3500, about $104,000 in 2020 dollars.The old building was sold to R.W. Stafford and moved to the corner of Church Street and Second Street for use as a pickle factory.
The building was completed in early August. On August 25, 1894, the Lake County Democratic convention was the first event held in the new hall. Over the years, the Romanesque Revival-style edifice hosted the Libertyville Township annual meetings, local political conventions, lectures, and entertainment. Local organizations rented the hall for agricultural exhibits, rehearsal and performance space, dances and balls, and suppers and banquets.
Local veterans founded American Legion Post 329 in the fall of 1919. Originally meeting at the Village Hall, in 1925 the American Legion signed a twenty-five year lease with Libertyville Township for use of the Town Hall building. The Township would continue to use the building as before with the American Legion taking responsibility for its upkeep. The lease was renewed for an additional fifty years in 1948. In 1973 the American Legion bought the building for $35,000. Libertyville Township continued to use the hall until 1982 when they moved to a new building on Merrill Court.
Exterior architectural changes over the years include the removal of the deteriorating cupola in the mid to late 1940s and the construction of a one-story annex on the south side of the building in 1949. This may also be when the original front door was replaced with a classical entry with a dental cornice and a triangular pediment. The second floor windows were replaced and the original round-arch transoms filled.
A replica cupola was installed in November 1996. The south side addition, constructed of concrete block, was covered in brick cladding during that same time period. In 2002, 26 layers of paint were removed from the exterior to expose the original brick.
“Our New Town House.” Lake County Independent, May 25, 1894.
“The new town hall is completed…” Lake County Independent, August 3, 1894, p.5.
“Democratic County Convention.” Lake County Independent, August 31, 1894, p.4.
HistoricLibertyville.com, http://historiclibertyville.com/index.php?project=yes&showonlyp=yes&c=3&p=820/. Accessed June 20, 2020.
Libertyville Township minutes - 1854-1905
“Drama and Farce Comedy.” Lake County Independent, April 26, 1895, p.5.
“The Libertyville Brass Band meets regularly…” Lake County Independent, November 6, 1896, p.5.
“Poultry exhibit at town hall arouses interest.” Libertyville Independent, December 25, 1924, p.1.
“Lake County’s First Annual Corn Show at Libertyville.” Lake County Independent, January 16, 1914, p.9.
“There will be a meeting at the Town Hall...:” Libertyville Independent, October 16, 1919, p.5.
“Many attend open house of Legion.” Independent Register, December 1, 1949 p.1.
Libertyville Town Hall Cupola Restoration 1996: Progress report and Future Plans. American Legion Post 329, December 27,1996.
Village of Libertyville. HistoricLibertyville.com
Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society
Libertyville-Mundelein Historical Society