Winfield Town Focus 2018
Bordered by forest preserves and dotted with parks, this west suburban hamlet offers a peaceful ambiance that contrasts to larger neighboring communities. But it is a town that is also still growing and evolving. So with the goal of “preserving the best and enhancing the rest,” development plans are underway to bring in new businesses, shops and restaurants.
Photo courtesy of Village of Winfield
Winfield has been described as a bedroom community, but a more apt comparison might be a living room. In that sense, this western suburb has a Hallmark Channel kind of lived-in charm, with winding roads, acres of undeveloped lands and areas bordered by forest preserves, quiet neighborhoods, and a downtown dotted with local businesses and quaint historical attractions.
Small, contained and tight-knit, Winfield offers a calm contrast to the neighboring larger towns of Wheaton, Carol Stream, West Chicago and Warrenville. With less hustle and bustle, the town sets a pace of its own, always in tune with the beauty of its natural setting.
“I’ve had conversations with people and I’ll often say that Winfield is a hidden gem — it has the demographics of Wheaton, access to major institutions and is surrounded by forest preserves and parks. Here, you can pretend you’re in a rural area when you are on par with the greater metro area,” says Village President Erik Spande.
That’s not to say that Winfield isn’t evolving with the times. Village leaders are busy working on future developments, including a new community building on North Avenue, a commercial project around Winfield and Roosevelt roads, and a potential apartment development in the center of town, all while seeking to preserve the elements that make this place a comfortable home for its more than 9,000 residents.
“We’re looking to take some of the advantages we have to preserve the best and enhance the rest,” says Spande, a 26-year resident of Winfield. Spande is quick to note that the new commercial area on the edge of town will be planned in a “neighborhood friendly” way that maintains the character of this suburban hamlet. “Our vibe is health and wellness,” he adds, underscoring Winfield’s links to health care and nature.
Nature and Nurture: Open Lands, Preserves and Parks
Nature does define Winfield, on a map as well as on a more intrinsic level. The community is anchored by forest preserves that are part of the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
The 359-acre Winfield Mounds Forest Preserve is unique to the area, because it is named for Native American burial grounds along the West Branch of the DuPage River. The three burial mounds within the preserve are actually the only documented prehistoric burial site in DuPage County. In addition to the historic aspect of this natural area, Winfield Mounds Forest Preserve includes trails and river fishing.
Winfield is also home to 15 parks run by the Winfield Park District, including Creekside Park and General Winfield Scott Park, which has a nature area and walking path that encircles a large pond. As indicated by the marble stone set at the entrance to the latter park, the village is named for General Winfield Scott, a decorated hero in the war of 1812, a presidential candidate for the Whig party in 1852, and the man given major credit for the Union Army’s successful Civil War strategy.
The Winfield Park District also oversees the Charles R. Beggs Activity Center in town, along with a veterans memorial and canoe launch for the DuPage River.
While Winfield parks are already scenic, one can improve on Mother Nature, as some recent developments in Winfield demonstrate. “We recently completed a segment of the West Branch DuPage River Trail that connects residents to Winfield Mounds and West DuPage forest preserves as well as Wynwood Park, Lions Park, Oakwood Park, Winfield Metra train station and Northwestern Medicine DuPage Hospital,” says Deb Humiston, communications specialist for the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
Another improvement, Riverwalk Park, is in the final phase of funding and planning and will be built near that new trail. “The park will promote health and wellness and highlight an under-appreciated natural environment,” says Spande, noting that park is located on land donated by Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital across the street.
The village board in Winfield recently approved the Riverwalk master plan, which includes scenic river overlooks, a canoe/kayak launch, fitness station, wetland and native restoration, a nature-themed playground and monument, among other elements, according to Spande.
A nonprofit citizen group called Winfield Riverwalk has been raising funds and creating awareness for the park and trail improvements.
Front and Center: Winfield Town Center
Winfield’s central district is known as Town Center and underscores the village’s rural charm within a larger metro area. Walk around and you’ll find some antique shops, including Antiques of Winfield, Antique and Chic, and Rejoice Resale that are as appealing for their friendly staff as for the vintage treasures set about in vignettes, displays and rooms.
You’ll also come across some local businesses in Winfield that evoke the entrepreneurial American spirit, from an old-time barber shop where it’s likely everyone knows each other’s name, to a spot called From Shabby to Fabby that sells re-purposed and redesigned once-discarded pieces, to Gnarly Knots Pretzel Company, which makes freshly baked soft pretzels and light lunch fare like pretzel dogs and soups.
Other restaurants and specialty food shops catering to Winfield residents and visitors include Vanilla Sugar Bakery, Berger Bros. Pub, Caliendo’s Restaurant & Bar and Giagnorio’s Deli, which operates on a pop-up type of basis on certain days of the week and offers deli fare, including fun items like the Hotsy Totsy sandwich and homemade chicken noodle soup. Giagnorio’s is a sibling restaurant, albeit with a different spelling, to Gianorio’s Pizza, which is known for its deep-dish pizza. (Sadly, the historic and beloved John’s Restaurant and Tavern closed at the end of 2017 after 96 years in business.)
Elsewhere in Winfield, you can check out eateries like Cooper’s Corner, Somsri Thai Cuisine, Maciano’s Pizza & Pastaria, Chinese Ho Carryout, Tony’s Steamers and Burrito Grill, among others.
Time and Again: Hedges Station and Other Historical Sites
On a bigger scale, there is one “antique” in Winfield that is a veritable Illinois treasure — the oldest train station in the state. Built in 1849 and later saved from the wrecking ball by the Winfield Historical Society, Hedges Station is the oldest remaining train depot in Illinois, as well as the oldest building in the village of Winfield. The white-frame depot, named for an early station master, was moved to its current location on Winfield Road more than 37 years ago and houses a museum that is open to the public. Railroad aficionados are often drawn to the site for its re-creation of the distinctive strap-rail track, the first type of track laid in the mid-1800s by the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad.
Winfield celebrates its history in other ways as well, including an annual Good Old Days festival, a parade, and a bike race sponsored by the Winfield Chamber of Commerce and held every September.
Health and Hospitality: Central DuPage Hospital
“We’re home to one of the best hospitals in America,” says village president Spande. His claims aren’t exaggerated. Central DuPage Hospital, now part of the Northwestern Medicine group, has a nationally-ranked orthopedics program and a strong reputation for its oncology, neurology, pediatric and cardiovascular care departments.
The honors keep coming. In August, the hospital was the first non-children’s hospital and the ninth hospital in the world to be certified by ChildKind International for being a healthcare facility that demonstrates broad excellence in the assessment, prevention and treatment of pain in children. Earlier in the summer, Central DuPage was bestowed the Lantern Award for its emergency department, one of only 11 ERs in the nation to receive the honor.
More than 1,000 physicians encompassing 89 medical specialties practice at this hospital.
The institution, which operated independently before being brought into the Northwestern fold, is more than a place that serves the health needs of the community, which it has done for nearly 50 years. “We’ve been having discussions with the hospital for a partnership that will help us revamp our town center,” says Spande. While the hospital is looking for additional parking spaces to support its facility, the town is seeking to expand and enhance its central business district, which can best be facilitated through a cooperative effort.
• It’s heading into its quiet season, but Klein Creek Golf Club in Winfield attracts golfers from around the area in the warmer months for its challenging design — the ninth hole, in fact, is rated as the most challenging ninth hole in the Chicago area. To soften the challenge, golfers can hang out at the clubhouse after their round or in the onsite Creekside restaurant.
• Winfield’s smaller institutions host their own special events throughout the year, including the holiday season. St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church, for example, puts on its annual Advent Fish Fry every Friday night during the advent season. The Winfield Park District will hold a turkey shoot free throw shooting contest in November and offer stocking deliveries to residents before Christmas in December. Instrumental in the Hedges Station museum, the Winfield Historical Society offers special events, including a bicentennial birthday party for the state of Illinois in November.Edit Module