Yorkville is the county seat in Kendall County, Illinois. The town of 6,100 citizens has easy access to northern Illinois’ transportation network. Located just 45 miles west of Chicago, the area has the advantage of country living with the convenience of the big city nearby. Reaching the Yorkville area by automobile is as scenic and pleasant as it is simple. Interstate travel is provided by I-88 which is just 6 miles to the north of town and allows quick travel to and from Chicago. Yorkville can also be reached from the southern part of the Chicago area via I- 55, which is only fifteen miles east of the city. Highways 47, 71, 126 and 34 all traverse Yorkville and I-80 is just 20 miles to the south.
Rail service is provided by the Illinois RailNet that serves the city’s industrial and commercial needs. Air travel is accommodated by the world’s busiest airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International, and Midway Airport, which are only an hour away. Aurora Municipal Airport is located just 6 miles north of Yorkville in Sugar Grove. Major trucking firms haul freight throughout the area and are based in nearby Aurora and elsewhere, serving the city’s growing small freight and package distribution needs. There is also a public barge dock 20 miles away in Morris, and the busy seaport of Chicago allows for national as well as international freight hauling to and from the region.
Yorkville is proud of its past and also takes pride in its commitment to the future. Permanent settlement of Kendall County began within a year after the Blackhawk War ended in 1832. By 1833, Earl Adams had built a small cabin on what was later known as Courthouse Hill on the south side of town. In 1834, Lyman and Burr Bristol laid out the Village of Bristol on the north side of the river. When the county of Kendall was formed in 1841, Yorkville was chosen as the county seat. After a 13 year period in which Oswego claimed that honor, voters chose in 1859 to relocate the county government to a spot near the island in the Fox River between the villages of Yorkville and Bristol. Yorkville’s site was chosen and a new Courthouse was completed in 1864. Replaced in 1997 with a new Courthouse on the north side of Yorkville, the 1864 building has been recommended for the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1870, the railroad came to Yorkville and businesses sprang up along the tracks and nearby river. Some of the most prominent businesses made use of the area’s natural resources – Squire Dingee’s pickle factory, the Yorkville Ice Company which sold the harvest from the Fox River, and the Rehbehn Brothers button factory, whose product was made from clam shells found in the river.
A disastrous fire at the Courthouse prompted two civic improvements that furthered the growth of the city. A fire house was built in 1888, and the city of Yorkville began city water service with water carried into town in wooden pipes from a spring south of town.
Some of the earliest business buildings in downtown Yorkville are still standing. The oldest is the two story structure on the west side of Bridge Street just south of the railroad tracks. It was built in 1856, and first housed the dry goods business of James Crooker and Capt. F.M. Hobbs, who also laid out the village square in Bristol. That square, complete with gazebo, is still used today as a city park and is the site each summer of Friday night outdoor concerts and weekly Farmers’ Markets.
Yorkville existed as two towns north and south of the Fox River, with separate governments, for more than 100 years. In 1957, the United City of the Village of Yorkville was created with Ellsworth Windett as the first mayor. Residents of the two towns agreed to form a unified school district in 1883. High school classes began that year in the building downtown at the northeast corner of Van Emmon and Bridge Streets. Education soon took a big step forward with the construction in 1888 of a two story brick school building on West Center Street. After Circle Center School was built in 1968, it was closed and the Yorkville School District space in it was rented to Waubonsee Community College for a time. Rising enrollment in the early 1970’s led to its re-opening and re-naming as Parkview School.
The downtown area remained the only business district in town until the construction in 1972 of Countryside Center. More businesses soon followed at the intersection of Routes 34 and 47. Several light manufacturing firms were established in the Fox Industrial Park at the south end of town in the 1970’s. Business growth continued to stretch city borders south of Route 71 and north of Cannonball Trail to the Amurol plant in 1994.
Both the city and school district now use land on the north side that was the site of the Kendall County Fair from 1858 to 1906. It was later used by the Illinois Department of Conservation as a state game farm. As the state reduced that operation, land on the east side of Game Farm Road was deeded to the city. A gift from the will of a former city clerk, Clarence Beecher, made possible the brick Beecher Community Building there. Later, the Yorkville Public Library, displaced by the construction of a four lane bridge on Route 47 in 1985, was built on the site.
The state later deeded the land west of Game Farm Road to the Yorkville School District and Elmwood Cemetery. The school district opened a new, 130,000 square foot high school there in 1998.
Land that was used for the enjoyment of the community at its County Fair in the 19th century remains available for public use as the 21st century dawns.
|Yorkville Elementary School||201 W Somonauk St, Yorkville, IL 60560||(630) 553-4390||Elementary Schools|
|Yorkville High School||797 Game Farm Rd, Yorkville, IL 60560||(630) 553-4380||High Schools|
|Yorkville Middle School||702 Game Farm Rd, Yorkville, IL 60560||(630) 553-4385||Middle Schools|