Fabyan Forest Preserve
Fabyan Forest Preserve is located along the Fox River, with entrances on both Route 25 and Route 31, just north of Fabyan Parkway. The Fabyan Villa Museum provides general history tours about the Fabyans and their fabulous Riverbank estate. Visitors are invited to stroll through the Fabyan Japanese Garden which is on the estate grounds. The preserve also has a 68 foot, five-story circa 1870 Dutch windmill offering tours.
The museum and garden are open from May through mid-October. Please check the Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley website for visiting hours. To tour the windmill, please refer to the Forest Preserve District of Kane County website.
The Museum was once the home of George and Nelle Fabyan from 1908 to 1939. An existing farmhouse dating to the mid-1800s was enlarged and remodeled by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1907. The house exhibits many of Wright’s Prairie style hallmarks. The Museum contains artifacts collected by the Fabyans, historic photographs, and some period and original furniture.
Visitors are enchanted by the tranquility and harmony of the Japanese-style garden. Most are unaware the Fabyan Japanese Garden has delighted community members and visitors for 100 years! The one-acre garden was designed circa 1910 for George and Nelle Fabyan.
It was designed by Taro Otsuka, an emigrant Japanese landscape architect, who had an office in downtown Chicago and designed gardens for the wealthy across the U.S. Inspired by their mutual interests, the Fabyans’ Japanese Garden was a uniquely serene oasis and was featured on many postcards in the 1920s and 30s.
While the Fabyans added personal elements, such as tulips, a gazing ball and an electrified lantern, their garden exemplified traditional gardens of Japan, incorporating water, stone and plants to represent the natural world. Today’s visitors to the Fabyan Japanese Garden can see many of the historic features and can experience the singular serenity of Japanese-style gardening.
The garden has been restored twice through efforts of the Geneva Garden Club, the Forest Preserve District of Kane County and community volunteers. When you visit, look for original plants, the Ginkgo Tree and Weeping Spruces, and original elements, the Mt. Sumeru representation, the Moon Bridge, the Tea House and the oversized lantern–all icons captured in hundreds of photos taken by visitors over the years. Historic photographs can be viewed in the Waiting Bench Chamber, a replicated structure offering a restful viewing place.
Both sites are owned by the Kane County Forest Preserve District, and operated by Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley, a non-profit historic preservation advocacy group.