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Short Posts of Historic Facts and Events in Illinois

Published on Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Naperville Parks - The Wil-O-Ways

Two parks bear the name “Wil-O-Way,” with one distinguished as “Wil-O-Way Commons.” Both are also situated on Jefferson Avenue within the Wil-O-Way subdivision.

As you might imagine, the parks are named for the subdivision — and the subdivision is named for the dairy farm on which the subdivision was built.

George and Dorothy Polivka raised Guernsey cows, starting the Wil-O-Way Farm Dairy in the late 1930s. In 1945, the Polivkas purchased Oakhurst, a gracious home built in 1847 that adjoined their farm. They changed the name of the house to Wil-O-Way.

Naperville’s first big building boom arrived in the 1960s and the Polivka family rolled with the times. Their farmland became the Wil-O-Way subdivision and son James Polivka opened Wil-O-Way Manor restaurant in the family home. Today, the house is known as Meson Sabika.

The Wil-O-Way subdivision was built in several phases, starting in 1967, and is situated on either side of Jefferson Avenue and River Road, about a mile west of downtown Naperville.

Rumor has it that the land on which Wil-O-Way Park sits was reserved as a possible elementary school site, anticipating continued population growth.

Today, the park features a children’s playground, basketball nets and a baseball diamond.

Wil-O-Way Commons Park runs along the DuPage River. There is a children’s playground at this location as well.

In 2011, there was a groundbreaking ceremony for the West Branch Riverway Trail that runs through Wil-O-Way Commons.

The Riverway Trail starts across Jefferson Avenue where the Riverwalk ends and continues under Ogden Avenue to connect up with McDowell Grove Forest Preserve. The
Riverway Trail is maintained as a cooperative effort between the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, the City of Naperville and the Naperville Park District.

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Author: Kate Gingold Host

Categories: Brief History



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