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June, 2000

from the Lake Villa - Lindenhurst Review 8 June 2000
Millburn residents want Route 45 rerouted
Residents of Historic Millburn would like to preserve their quaint, horse-and-buggy pace of life, but the unincorporated village needs help stemming traffic on its main street in order to do so.
Ironically, Route 45, paved in 1926, is the major thoroughfare that village preservationists wish had stayed small town and rural.
About five years ago stop lights replaced stop signs on Route 45 at Millburn Road and its continuation west, Grass Lake Road. The lights helped slow the growing traffic flowing in all directions through the tiny community. The Millburn Historic Community Association, in its passion to preserve Millburn, wants to see Route 45 re-routed to the west of its present path, allowing Millburn, with no legal boundaries and about 30 to 40 residents, to retain and enhance its quaint past.
Town leaders
The association was formed in February 1979, with eight selectmen elected to form a board.
Association Chairman Dorothy Fettinger said Old Mill Creek officials, just to the east of Millburn, have aided Millburn in its effort to retain its rural character. Old Mill Creek, with a 1996 population of 71, recently annexed both sides of Route 45 into its incorporated village, even though historic Millburn is not itself incorporated and has no boundaries.
The board meets at the general store on the first Tuesday night of every month. Among those still remaining on the board are Fettinger, Mildred Elsbury Haisma and Ruth White. Rounding out the current board are Linda Muzek, Jennifer Andrew, and Wolfgang (treasurer) and Dorothy Berthold. About a year ago, said Haisma, the "backbone of the board," Joseph and Reva Konefes, moved to Iowa.
Over the years the board sought the aid and advice of officials from Old Mill Creek, the Landmarks Preservation Committee, the Lake County State's Attorney's office, and the county Building and Zoning Department.
One of the best ways to protect Millburn, said Chairman Fettinger, was to place homes on the National Register of Historic Places, as was done with 18 homes in 1979.
That way, the board reasoned, any additional lanes of a federally funded highway, like Route 45, could not be installed through a national register district.
Fettinger said that re-routing Route 45 just to the west presented no natural obstacles other than MacDonald's Forest Preserve. And forest preserve officials have voiced support of re-routing the road, said Fettinger.
The Illinois Department of Transportation recently drew a mathematical center line of a re-routed Route 45, said Fettinger. State Sen. Adeline Geo-Karis and 62nd District State Rep. Timothy Osmond have given the project support, said Fettinger, as did former State Rep. Bob Churchill.
Town history
Millburn's roots are part of Lake County's historic fabric. Between 1835 and 1844, the area that would become Millburn welcomed a sawmill, then the homesteading Strang brothers and finally the arrival of an abolitionist minister, Rev. William Bradford Dodge.
Route 45, running north and south through Millburn, was eventually bisected by Millburn Road, coming from the east, jogging to the north across Route 45, and heading west as Grass Lake Road.
In 1862 Richard Pantall built the first stage of a store later to become Martin's General Store, on the northeast corner of the village's only intersection. In 1985, the general store would become the Historic Millburn Community Association museum.
Mildred Haisma lives just two doors south of the general store, in a home built in 1858, about 13 years after the first frame homes began to replace log cabins in Millburn. She and her husband, John, moved to Millburn from Warren Township in 1949.
Haisma said traffic remains a big problem as surrounding areas, like Lindenhurst, Gurnee and Antioch expand. "The two new stop lights about four or five years ago slowed it down some," said Haisma, "but there's just too much of it. I live across the street from the church (Millburn Congregational United Church of Christ) and it's pretty impossible to walk across the street to church." To Haisma, Millburn is a place that people want to live out their years in. "Most of the people who have left Millburn who have lived here a long time, have left in a wooden box," she said.
The general store hours are Saturday and Sunday, from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
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