The landmarked Fairview Train Station was constructed in 1916 and was designed and built by the staff of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad replacing the first station built in 1890. Designed by the engineering staff of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad it was to portray the rural image that the turn-of-the-century suburban community wanted. Built of masonry construction at a cost of $3,300, it has 790 square feet and looks more like a cottage than a train station. It had a modest canopy on the track side that has been enlarged over the years and false shutters have been added.
In 1864 the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad started passenger service from Aurora to Chicago. By 1884 there were 20 stations on the line. The first station building at East Grove, now called Fairview, was built about 1890 and was of frame construction with picturesque details that reflected the buildings of the time.
The station was built on land settled in the 1850’s by Victor Fredenhagen of Mecklenburg, Germany. He operated a large dairy farm and he was a state legislator in 1874 and also served as a supervisor of Downers Grove Township from 1871-1872 and 1874-1875. He was one of the first realtors in the area when he started selling some of the 1,200 acres he owned in the 1880’s. To attract buyers he offered free rides on the Burlington and all the milk you could drink.
The railroad impacted the development of Downers Grove by bringing residents, supplies, and even the Sears homes. The area south of the tracks in close proximity to the train station site was called East Grove and was part of the Fredenhagen Subdivision settled by Victor Fredenhagen in the 1850’s. As one of the first realtors and operator of a large dairy farm, he offered free rides on the railroad and unlimited milk to attract buyers. The original name of East Grove Station was changed in 1918 to avoid confusion with the Main Street Station.
Towards the end of the 19th century, shifting immigration patterns were reflected in Downers Grove with the construction of St. Mary of Gostyn Catholic Church founded by settlers from Gostyn, Poland in 1891. For the dedication, two twelve-car trains brought Catholics from Chicago who marched behind a band to the church north on Fairview. The station’s high gambrel roof over the station master’s quarters in the second floor, canopy on the track side, and masonry construction was meant to convey a rural image of the town by making the station resemble a cottage. This was in keeping with the community’s image as a healthy alternative from city life. Small weekend-getaway vacation cottages were for sale as an escape for those wishing to enjoy parks and trees.
Highlighting the importance of the railroad as the lifeblood of the community is the snowstorm of 1918. The entire town was shut-down with deliveries of coal, milk, and mail halted. Every able-bodied resident was pressed into service to clear the railroad and allow for the town to be resupplied. The station itself has stayed mostly the same except for the canopy extension and interior renovations.
Up until 1977, Maxine Loftus, a station agent, was living in the second story of the station. The story of her providing cookies and coffee to commuters not only represents the transit gateway aspect of the station, but also showcases Downers Grove residents’ sense of community. Over the years, a small commercial area has developed around the train station and this Fairview Concentrated Business District is considered the second downtown of Downers Grove.
After 100 years this station continues to serve the community.
This station was also selected as the Historic Site of the Year in 2017.
For more information, see the Village of Downers Grove Landmarking Resolution for this house.