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Wilmette is a village in New Trier Townshipmarker, Cook Countymarker, Illinoismarker, United Statesmarker. It is located north of Chicagomarker's downtown district (or from Chicagomarker's northern border) and has a population of 27,651. Wilmette is considered a bedroom community in the affluent North Shore district. In 2007, Wilmette was ranked as the seventh best place to raise children in the U.S., according to Business Week.


Before European settlement, a Potawatomi village was located on "Indian Hill", currently the site of a golf course in nearby Winnetkamarker.The village is named in honor of Antoine Ouilmette, a French-Canadian fur trader married to Archange, the daughter of Potawatomi chief Sauganash.For his part in persuading local Native Americans to sign the Treaty of Prairie du Chien in 1829, the U.S.marker government awarded Ouilmette 1,280 acres (5.2 km²) of land in present-day Wilmette and Evanstonmarker. In 1848, he sold the land to farmers and developers and it eventually evolved into modern-day Wilmette.

John G. Westerfield built pickle and vinegar factories in the area in 1857. Other early commercial development included a cooperage, a brick kiln, and an icehouse.

The Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad tracks were built in 1854, but the first local station wasn't constructed until 1869. The Chicago, North Shore and Milwaukee (North Shore Line) arrived in 1899 and connected with a Milwaukee Road line into Chicago. The North Shore Line through Wilmette was abandoned in 1955, the line into Chicago is now the CTA's Purple Line.

German Catholic farmers from the area of Triermarker began settling the area in the 1840s. They named their village Gross Point, which was located west of Ridge Road. The Village of Wilmette was incorporated on September 19, 1872 and the Village of Gross Point was incorporated on September 19, 1874.September 19 is celebrated locally as Charter Day.Wilmette was nearly annexed by its neighbour to the south, Evanstonmarker, in 1894 and 1897. Proponents wanted to take advantage of Evanston's then-superior fire, police, and waterworks. One annexation referendum lost by a vote of 168 to 165; three others also failed.

Gross Point's municipal revenues were dependent on the 15 taverns in town. With prohibition these revenues disappeared and the village went bankrupt. It was annexed in two parts by the Village of Wilmette in 1924 and 1926.

No Man's Landmarker was an unincorporated shoreline area bordering Wilmette, Evanston, and Kenilworth. It was the subject of numerous disputes and legal arguments between the three municipalities for decades before it was finally annexed into Wilmette in 1942.

The oldest surviving Bahá'í House of Worship was constructed here between 1920 and 1953.

Village government

Wilmette is governed by a village board composed of six trustees and a president. Trustees serve staggered, four-year terms and are elected at-large. The current village trustees are Mike Basil, Cameron Krueger, Ted McKenna, Karen Spillers, Alan Swanson, and Mari Terman. The current village president is Chris Canning.

In 2004, Wilmette was one of the first localities in Illinoismarker to enact a ban on smoking in all public spaces, including bars and restaurants. Also that year, the village government prosecuted local resident Hale DeMar, age 59, for violating the town's handgun ban (enacted in 1989). DeMar shot a burglar inside his house.

The handgun ban was enacted in direct response to an incident in 1988 when Laurie Dann opened fire on a classroom full of children in neighboring Winnetka.


Below secondary education, Wilmette is served by Wilmette Public Schools District 39 which includes elementary schools (grades K–4) Central, Harper, McKenzie, and Romona, Highcrest Middle School (grades 5 & 6), and Wilmette Junior High School (grades 7 & 8).Marie Murphy School, also located in Wilmette, is part of Avoca School District 37. There are also several parochial elementary schools in the area, including St. Francis Xavier and St. Joseph.Other private schools in Wilmette include the Ronald Knox Montessori School and the Baker Demonstration Schoolmarker.

For public secondary education, Wilmette students attend New Trier High Schoolmarker. High school freshmen attend classes at the Northfieldmarker campus while other grades attend the Winnetkamarker campus. Wilmette is also home to Catholic high schools Loyola Academy and Regina Dominican High Schoolmarker.

Arlyn School in Wilmette is an alternative school supported by member school districts in the area. It serves junior high and high school students who have been referred by school districts, community agencies, private practitioners, and parents.

The Wilmette Public Librarymarker provides educational support to students at all grade levels, including those residing in neighboring Kenilworth, Illinoismarker.


Attractions include Gillson Park with beach access, marina, and an off-leash area for dogs, a smaller beach named Langdon Beach, and Centennial Park, with a public swimming pool, tennis and ice-skating facilities. The Wilmette Golf Club, hosting a 6,378-yard course, is located on the far west side of town. Wilmette is home to a Bahá'í House of Worship and the administrative offices for the Bahá'í National Spiritual Assembly. The house of worship was named in 2007 as one of the Seven Wonders of Illinois by the Illinois Bureau of Tourism. Wilmette has a small two theater multiplex named the Wilmette Theater located on Central Street in one of it's downtowns. Wilmette has three shopping centers; one of them is Plazza del Lago, one of the nations oldest shopping centers, it is located along Sheridan Road; the other two, Edens Plazza and West Lake Plaza, are on Lake Street along the Edens Expressway.


In addition to the Bahá'í House of Worship, Wilmette is famous for its several other examples of religious architecture.

The oldest existing church building in Wilmette is the First Congregational Church (1909) designed in the Tudor Revival style. Trinity United Methodist Church (1928) is a Neo-Gothic structure and was designed and constructed by Granger & Bollenbacher of Wisconsin Lannonstone. The church features stained glass windows by Willet Studios of Philadelphiamarker, among the top American studios during the 1920s. The church was also used as a filming location for Home Alone.

Both St. Joseph and St. Francis Xavier Church were designed by the firm of McCarthy, Smith and Eppig. St. Joseph's is Wilmette's oldest religious congregation, having been established in 1843. The present building (1939) is among the finest examples of Art Deco architecture on the North Shore. The interior is particularly well preserved and features Art Deco light fixtures, and stained glass windows designed and fabricated by Giannini & Hilgart of Chicagomarker. The altar floor and sanctuary wall contain Italian and French marble inlaid with Portuguese onyx. The Stations of the Cross are pastel-hued mosaics crafted in the Vatican Studio of Mosaics in Romemarker. The design and materials of the Y-shaped school designed by Herman J. Gaul of Chicagomarker and constructed in 1934, and the adjacent rectory, harmonize with the church. St. Francis Xavier Church (1939) was designed in the Late Gothic Revival mode while McCarthy, Smith & Eppig were simultaneously working on St. Joseph's in Wilmette. The stained glass windows were made with English and German imported glass by the famed F. X. Zettler Studios of Munich, Germanymarker and New Yorkmarker. St Francis Xavier School (1924), just east of the church is a unique modern blend of Gothic architecture by Chicago architect Barry Byrne.

Wilmette has two houses built by Frank Lloyd Wright: the Frank J.marker Baker Housemarker (and carriage house) and the Lewis Burleigh House.

Historic preservation

These places in Wilmette are on the National Register of Historic Places:

Site Address Listed
Baha'i Temple 100 Linden Ave. 1978
Bailey-Michelet House 1028 Sheridan Rd. 1982
Frank J.marker Baker Housemarker 507 Lake Ave. 1974
Alfred Bersbach House 1120 Michigan Ave. 2003
Chicago and Northwestern Depotmarker 1135-1141 Wilmette Ave. 1975
Gross Point Village Hall 609 Ridge Rd. 1991
Linden Avenue Terminalmarker 330 Linden Ave. 1984
Oak Circle Historic District 318-351 Oak Circle 2001
Ouilmette North Historic District 46 blk district ext. from Chesnut Ave, Sheridan Rd., Lake Ave. and 13th St. 2005


Linden Avenue 'L' Station
Wilmette is served by the Chicago Transit Authority's 'L' and Metra, as well the PACE suburban bus system. The northernmost station of the Purple Line is located at Linden Avenuemarker in Wilmette. Wilmette's commuter railroad stationmarker is at Green Bay Road and Washington Avenue.


Wilmette is located on the western shore of Lake Michiganmarker and is a near northern suburb of Chicago, immediately north of Evanstonmarker at (42.077178, -87.723736) . The North Shore Channel drainage canal empties into Lake Michigan at Wilmette Harbor.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 5.4 square miles (14.0 km²), of which, 5.4 square miles (13.9 km²) of it is land and 0.19% is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 27,651 people, 10,039 households, and 7,730 families residing in the village. The population density was 5,135.8 people per square mile (1,984.4/km²). There were 10,319 housing units at an average density of 1,916.6/sq mi (740.6/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 89.66% White, 0.56% Black, 0.04% Native American, 8.16% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.42% from other races, and 1.15% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.08% of the population.

There were 10,039 households out of which 40.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.9% were married couples living together, 6.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.0% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.19.

In the village the population was spread out with 29.7% under the age of 18, 3.6% from 18 to 24, 21.7% from 25 to 44, 27.8% from 45 to 64, and 17.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.9 males.

According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the village was $120,469, and the median income for a family was $149,104. Males had a median income of $97,143 versus $50,007 for females. The per capita income for the village was $55,611. About 1.3% of families and 2.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.6% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.

The village ranks 45th on the list of highest-income places in the United States with a population of over 10,000.

People from Wilmette

Sister Cities

Wilmette's sister city in Australia is Mona Valemarker in Pittwater Councilmarker, New South Walesmarker and they participate in an annual student exchange program between their high schools. Mona Vale and Wilmette are connected spiritually as well, each is home to a Bahá'í House of Worship, of which there are only seven in the world.


  2. Believer magazine, February, 2008.
  3. [ NRIS, Search Illinois, Wilmette]
  5. Playboy model appears in court on DUI charge
  6. Playboy Model Drops Bid To Drive After DUI Bust

Further reading

  • Ebner, Michael. Creating Chicago's North Shore: A Suburban History. 1988.
  • Holley, Horace. Wilmette Story. 1951.

See also

External links

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