A Suburban Detour: Museums at Lisle Station Park

I have lived in Lisle my whole life and so I have grown up knowing the suburbs better than Chicago. But I did not know about the museums at Lisle Station Park until a neighbor invited me. I liked it so much that I decided to become a museum volunteer. This was six years ago.

The museums at Lisle Station Park is a living history museum in which elements of Lisle’s history are preserved. This includes everything from the historic structures themselves to the artifacts within. The museum includes five historic structures: Lisle Depot, Beaubien Tavern, Netzley/ Yender House, Blacksmith Shop and CB&Q Waycar #14584.

Lisle Station Park

The CB&Q Railroad Depot

When a fire destroyed Lisle’s first depot, the Chicago Burlington & Quincy Railroad rebuilt it in 1874. This structure is now the centerpiece of The Museums at Lisle Station Park. Step inside and you get to see what a late nineteenth century station was like. This place played a key role in the community’s growth by serving as a passenger and shipping facility for 104 years. It continues to serve the community by preserving the heritage of Lisle.

Inside you get to see the living quarters that housed the stationmaster as well as the original Baggage Room. This is where baggage was checked, including fresh produce from farmers. Currently two displays show the development of Lisle’s Main Street via panoramic pictures.

Beaubien Tavern

Named after an early settler of Chicago, the Beaubien Tavern has a long and colorful history. The building was constructed in the 1830s by William Sweet and acquired by Mark Beaubien in 1840. Many of you may be familiar with Beaubien as he ran the Sauganash Hotel, a tavern and inn infamous for debauchery and crazy times – the kind of stuff usually associated with the Old Wild West. We always love mentioning his wild tavern on the Historic Chicago Walking Bar Tour. The tavern was also a stop on the Southwest Plank Road in the 1850s.

The Netzley House

Lisle Station Park

In the late 1850s, Jacob Netzley built the stately house pictured above. He was a weaver by trade and bought the house after a fire ravaged his family’s original home. Four generations of the Netzley family resided in the expansive Greek Revival style home before it was purchased by George Yender in 1910. A family of farmers, the Yenders ran a farm and dairy business in town. The Lisle Station Parl museums have restored the farm house to its appreance when the Netzley’s lived there. My favorite artifact in the museum is a bee-hive oven that the Lisle Station Park museum still uses to prep apple pie and cornbread for special events.

The Waycar and Blacksmith

The term “waycar” was what CB&Q employees called this train car, though the term caboose has become most popular. Built in 1881 it served as an employee lounge space for workers traveling night and day. It provided beds, a restroom, stove, and a cupola, which was a viewing portal so that workers could view tracks and surroundings.

Lisle Station Park

The 19th-century blacksmith shop was originally a barn in Wisconsin. The Lisle Station Park museum had it disassembled, shipped, and reassembled on their grounds. A functioning blacksmith shop today, volunteers teach the art of blacksmithing to future generations and new metal work for museum maintenance and restoration.

Lisle Station Park


Check out their blog for updates about programs and events, including their Chicago History Author Series, Ghost Stories and Veterans Forum.

~Brian Failing: Research & Collections Intern


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

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With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


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Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


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Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

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Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
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Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

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I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
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