Lake Villa's history began well over a century ago, before its incorporation on February 21, 1901. Originally settled in the early 1800's, Lake Villa was once a resort town where the affluent and many other tourists came to relax. Several of the early mansions built here at that time, still stand and are a rich part of our history. There's no doubt that the great E.J. Lehmann, Merchant Prince of State Street, had a profound impact on the history of Lake Villa. By bringing in the railroad and a resort hotel, the area was the "Lake Geneva" of its time. A depot was completed and the first passenger train stopped at Lake Villa on July 26, 1886. Passenger train service was reestablished on the Wisconsin Central in 1995. In 1996, the Lake Villa Train Station was reconstructed according to the original architectural plans. On Mondays - Fridays, the single track is shared by 10 passenger trains a day and countless freights. Ice cutting in the winter was one of Lake Villa's past industries. The Knickerbocker Ice Company built a plant (1888) on the south shore of Deep Lake with a railroad spur to the site. Blocks of ice were cut from the frozen area lakes and shipped by train to Chicago. Horses pulled huge double cut saws along the lakes and steam engines lifted the 22-inch blocks on 14-foot high ropes and pulleys to the warehouse. Many local farmers worked the ice fields in the winter. The town center at that time was along Route 83 at Cedar Avenue. The northeast corner had a meat market, a restaurant and Dixon's Sugar House. Just north was Lehmann's Lake Villa Hotel on the east shore of Cedar Lake, where Cedar Village now stands. The Methodist Episcopal Church of Lake Villa held the southwest corner, having been moved by wagon in 1892. The church is now a private residence. Across the street to the east were a post office, a livery stable and bus barn owned by E.J. Lehmann and John Stratton, offering horse drawn bus and carriage rides to local resorts from the train station and sight-seeing tours. To the east was the fabulous Lehmann home, a stucco castle built in 1888 overlooking Deep Lake. Just north of the Lehmann property were two more hotels; the Jarvis House and the Darby House. The local newspaper was called the Lake Villa Advocate. Population from the Bureau of the Census Library shows an interesting growth pattern for the Village. In 1910 the population was 343. By 1920 it had grown to 407, which increased to 487 during the next 10 years. The Great Depression years saw a dip in the number of people living in Lake Villa, and by 1940, the figure had fallen to 439. A post war jump took place during the 1940s, and by 1950 the population had nearly doubled to 824. The increase continued and 1960 saw a population of 903. Certificates in the Village files register growth at smaller intervals than the Census Bureau's regular decade counts. In 1966, the Village had a population of 1,024, which grew to 1,090 in the next five years. By 1981 the population stood at 1,462; 1987's count was 2,395; by 1989 the figure had climbed to 2,752; and in 1990, the population reached 2,857. A special census conducted by the Census Bureau in 1997 showed a population increase to 3,957; and in 2000 the population was 5,864. The 2010 Census population is 8,774..
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