Wilmette Village Hall is located at 1200 Wilmette Avenue, Wilmette, IL 60091; phone: 847-251-2700.
The present Village of Wilmette is distinct among North Shore communities because it was created by the 1924 merger of two older villages, Wilmette and Gross Point. The origins and development of these two communities differed, and this difference is still visible on the landscape. On the east, Wilmette developed on a wooded tract bordering Lake Michigan. On the west, Gross Point was the center of a German immigrant, farming community that spread across the open fields west of what is now Ridge Road.
Wilmette's road to incorporation began in 1869, a time during which the railroads played a crucial role in development, when a group of five men formed a land syndicate to promote residential development on the former Ouilmette Reservation. John G. Westerfield, the man who had originally farmed the land around the old Ouilmette cabin and later the village's first president, laid out streets and lots in his first survey of the Village. Despite this earlier platting of the Village, it was not until 1872 that the Village was incorporated. It was named after early settlers Archange and Antoine Ouilmette, although the spelling was changed.
In 1910, the Northwestern Elevated Electric Railroad replaced the CM & St. Paul line, making electric train service to Chicago or Milwaukee available for the first time from the east side of the Village. This line was expanded north to 4th Street and Linden Avenue in 1912. In 1913, the railroad's architect designed and built a Prairie-style station intended to be a "high-grade artistic terminal to attract the better purchasers." This electric line is commonly called the "L" line and still operates.
By 1940, the population of the Village had reached 17,226. In 1942, Wilmette's boundaries were further expanded when No Man's Land, the triangle of land near the lake and bordering Kenilworth, was annexed after years of legal and legislative battles. Zoning changes allowed high-rise apartment buildings to be built there beginning in the 1960s.