The Town Abandoned For a Nuclear Research Facility: The Story of Weston, Illinois

Weston, IL was a community in western DuPage County, Illinois located between present-day Batavia, Winfield and West Chicago. It was no different than the numerous other subdivisions that would soon turn into the mass suburbanization that occurred in the United States during the postwar era from the late 1940's to the early 1960's, although the aforementioned villages that surrounded were also vying for land and annexation rights to grow.

Aerial view of Weston, the site for the National Accelerator laboratory in 1966. (Image: Fermilab)

At its beginning it was a small subdivision, but in the 1960’s, its developers drew up plans for a municipality of 50,000 people, complete with the largest mall in the United States and an airport, among other proposals.

Weston advertisement. Image: World Abandoned

The nearby villages and the county of DuPage would have no part of it. Weston was not allowed to incorporate based on a legal technicality in 1964. The developers left bankrupt with only 100 houses built. DuPage County sued developer William Riley in order to prevent the town from incorporating, basing their challenge upon a technicality, and further stated that as it had not properly incorporated that the town had no legal right to annex land for development.

The villagers then put their hopes in the US Atomic Energy Commission, hoping they would build a proposed nuclear research facility in the village. They did just that, today it is called Fermilab.

However, the facility would be the end of Weston, since its boundaries encompassed the entire development. Villagers were forced to sell their houses and relocate, and Weston was dissolved in 1969.

Today, some of the original houses are still standing, used by Fermilab for boarding of international scientists, but these are not accessible to the public.

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