'Romeoville' by Nancy Hackett

The Romeoville Area Historical Society received an award from the Illinois State Historical Association for the book "Romeoville" by Nancy Hackett. (Chicago Tribune photo / April 29, 2014)

A new pictorial book that showcases the history of Romeoville was the ticket for members of the local historical society to a luncheon over the weekend at the Executive Mansion in Springfield.

The book, assembled by the Romeoville Area Historical Society for Arcadia Publishing, was given an award for preserving state history, said society president Nancy Hackett. Dozens of other organizations and individuals also were recognized.

"It was an enjoyable event and we were very excited to be there," Hackett said.

Hackett also had the opportunity to tour two floors of the mansion.

"I liked the mansion a lot," she said. "It was elegant but not overwhelming."

The book, titled "Romeoville," was released by Arcadia Publishing, a company that prints similar books about other towns. It became available for purchase last August, according to Hackett, and about 500 books have sold so far. Another 200 are still for sale.

Hackett said she believes it's important for residents to know about local history.

"It's nice to know where you came from," she said. "It also helps instill pride about the community."

Romeoville, initially called Romeo, along with Lockport and Joliet, were initially erected to house Illinois and Michigan Canal workers and their families. The town just "kind of sat there" for decades, Hackett said in a previous article, with only 150 people in 1950.

It began flourishing in the late 1950s, when Hampton Park, a development built on farmland west of the canal, pushed the population to more than 3,000 within four years. The new prefabricated homes were indicative of America's post-World War II prosperity, and came complete with window panes and carpet, if that had been ordered.

Hackett said that many people around the region often want to learn more about the history of the White Fence Farm chicken restaurant, which is still located on the north end of town. The book includes various pictures of the restaurant, which opened in the early 1920s and was a popular spot for those visiting an adjacent horse track facility. The restaurant later became a popular dining establishment on Route 66, which is now Joliet Road, and is now a stopping point for Route 66 enthusiasts.

Those interested in ordering the book can call 815-886-0273. The book costs $19 and the historical society receives royalties on each copy sold.

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