Libertyville is an affluent northern suburb of Chicago in Lake County, Illinois, United States. It is located west of Lake Michigan on the Des Plaines River. The 2010 census population was 20,315. (There is also a township of the same name, which includes the village and some surrounding areas.) Located in northeastern Illinois, southwest of Waukegan and west of Lake Forest, its immediate neighbors are Mundelein to the west, Green Oaks, Mettawa, and Rondout to the east, Gurnee to the north, Grayslake to the northwest, and Vernon Hills to the south.
The land that is now Libertyville was the property of the Illinois River Potawatomi Indians until August 1829, when economic and resource pressures forced the tribe to sell much of their land in northern Illinois to the U.S. government for $12,000 cash, an additional $12,000 in goods, plus an annual delivery of 50 barrels of salt.
Pursuant to the treaty, the Potawatomi left their lands by the mid-1830s, and by 1835 the future Libertyville had its first recorded non-indigenous resident, George Vardin. Said to be a "well-educated" English immigrant with a wife and a young daughter, Vardin lived in a cabin located where the Cook Park branch of the Cook Memorial Public Library District stands today. Though he apparently moved on to the west that same year, the settlement that grew up around his cabin was initially known as Vardin's Grove.
In 1836, during the celebrations that marked the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, the community voted to name itself Independence Grove. 1837 brought the town's first practicing physician, Jesse Foster, followed quickly by its first lawyer, Horace Butler, for whom Butler Lake is named. The professionals needed services, so a post office opened, necessitating a third name change, because another Independence Grove existed elsewhere in the state. On April 16, 1837, the new post office was registered under the name Libertyville.
The town's name changed again two years later to Burlington when it became the county seat of Lake County. When the county seat moved to Little Fort (now Waukegan, which is the Potawatomi word for "Little Fort"), the name reverted to Libertyville, without further changes.
Libertyville's most prominent building, the Cook Mansion, was built in 1879 by Ansel Brainerd Cook, very close to the spot where Vardin's cabin was built in the 1830s. Cook, a teacher and stonemason, became a prominent Chicago builder and politician, providing flagstones for the city's sidewalks and taking part in rebuilding after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The two-story Victorian mansion served as Cook's summer home as well as the center of his horse farm, which provided animals for Chicago's horsecar lines. The building was remodeled in 1921, when it became the town library, gaining a Colonial-style facade with a pillared portico.
The community expanded rapidly with a spur of the Milwaukee Road train line (now a Metra commuter line) reaching Libertyville in 1881, resulting in the incorporation of the Village of Libertyville in 1882, with John Locke its first village president.
Libertyville's downtown area was largely destroyed by fire in 1895, and the village board mandated brick to be used for reconstruction, resulting in a village center whose architecture is substantially unified by both period and building material. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which gave Libertyville a Great American Main Street Award, called the downtown "a place with its own sense of self, where people still stroll the streets on a Saturday night, and where the tailor, the hometown bakery, and the vacuum cleaner repair shop are shoulder to shoulder with gourmet coffee vendors and a microbrewery."
Samuel Insull, founder of Commonwealth Edison, began purchasing land south of Libertyville in 1906. He eventually acquired , a holding that he named Hawthorn-Mellody Farms. He also bought the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric line (later the Chicago, North Shore & Milwaukee), which built a spur from Lake Bluff to Libertyville in 1903. When Insull was ruined by the Great Depression, parts of his estate were bought by prominent Chicagoans Adlai Stevenson and John F. Cuneo.