The Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden are located in the Fabyan Forest Preserve, 200 acres along the Fox River in Geneva. The Fabyan Forest Preserve was once part of George and Nelle Fabyans' private estate.


A Brief History...                

The Fabyan Villa was the home of Colonel George and Nelle Fabyan from 1905-1939. Riverbank, the name they bestowed upon their property, was initially a country retreat from their home in Chicago. They hired Frank Lloyd Wright in 1907 to enlarge and re-model the existing farmhouse and shortly thereafter took up permanent residence at the Villa, as they called their home. They acquired 300 acres, creating a country estate which soon became a lavish showplace complete with fountains, gardens, a Roman-style swimming pool, a Dutch-style windmill, a private zoo, a working lighthouse, a boathouse, tennis courts, and more.  The Fabyans pursued their varied interests on their estate, including horticulture, animal husbandry, and scientific research.  

When visiting the Villa Museum, you will discover the Fabyans' uniquely fascinating legacy. The Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie-style house contains the Fabyans' private collection of Asian artifacts, natural history specimens, original furniture and more! Documents and photographs detail George's involvement in the Treaty of Portsmouth and Japanese international relations, the Bacon/Shakespeare controversy, code-breaking that significantly influenced both World Wars and pioneering research and development in acoustics.   The captivating combination of significant architecture, military intrigue, Japanese culture and personal exploration makes the Fabyan Villa Museum a unique experience for all ages.

The Fabyans' Japanese Garden      

Installed c. 1910, the Japanese Garden is a tranquil oasis where history melds with nature and design. This historic garden affords the opportunity to experience the uniqueness of Japanese gardening and enjoy a moment of harmony with nature while strolling the winding path of this 100 year-old site.


Fabyan Villa Museum


Private tours are available, weather permitting, from October-April

~ See group tour info below ~

Regular Open Hours:


May 1 through October 15

  • Wednesdays 1-4 p.m.
  • Saturdays & Sundays 1-4:30 p.m.

~guided 45 minute tours~

  • Thursday 1-4 p.m.(June through August only)

 Self-Guided Mystery Tours~Kids' Days  


Admission: suggested donation $2.00 adults, $1.00 children


Groups of 8 should make a reservation

for a private tour during non-regular hours/days.




Fabyan Japanese Garden

Regular Open Hours:

  • Sundays  1-4:30 p.m.   May 1 through October 15
  • Wednesdays 1-4 p.m.  May 15 through October 15
  • Thursdays 1-4 p.m.  June 1 through August 29


Admission: suggested donation $1.00 per person

  • Self-guided brochure available during visit

  • Plant map available for $1.00


Groups of 8 should make a reservation

for a private tour during non-regular hours/days.


seasonal photos of the Japanese Garden




2014 Winter Walks:


January 18th and 31st

February 8th and 21st

1 p.m.

Snow is required for this event.

Suggested donation of $2 per person


Please call 630-377-6424 on the day of tour

to confirm tour status.

Walk begins at the West garden gate.

click here for tour description

Click here for directions



The Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden

are featured in the book Off The Beaten Path, Illinois.

The sites are also featured in WTTW's Fox River Valley and Chain o'Lakes with Geoffrey Baer.




For Wedding ceremonies and portrait, tripod or group photography in the Japanese Garden:

you must call the Forest Preserve District Reservation Line 

630-232-1242 or email kcfpres@kaneforest.com





Group Tours

Group tours are specifically tailored to complement your group's interests. Let us help you plan a memorable outing for your group! 
  • Groups of 10 or more MUST make advance reservations
  • For groups of any size, available during non-regular hours/days 
  • Fee: $4.00 per person, per site (Villa and Garden)

                   $3.00 seniors and children per person, per site

 *Minimum group tour charge:  $25.00

  Click here to download our Group Tour Policy document

Outreach Programs

We can bring the Fabyan sites to you throughout the year with our PowerPoint programs. In-depth presentations are available on the Fabyans and their fabulous estate, Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style at the Fabyan Villa, the history and seasonal beauty of the Japanese Garden in Images of Tranquility, and the Fabyan Dutch Windmill.



School Tours

  • 3rd -5th Grade

  The Fabyans' Contributions to Community and Country

  • 5th Grade & Up

Scout Programs

  • For Cub Scouts, Brownies and Girl Scouts

~programs for badges or general activity

  •   March through November
  •   Available after school and on Saturdays
  •   Fees vary by program

For information or to schedule a group tour, call

630-377-6424 or email fabyanvilla@ppfv.org. 


Volunteering Opportunities

If you want to support local culture & enjoy working with people,

the Villa Museum & Japanese Garden needs your help as a

volunteer guide or greeter or gardener!

Whether you are interested in history, architecture, gardening, or meeting new people- discover the rewards of volunteering at the Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden. These are unique sites that offer unique experiences to people of all ages- visitors and volunteers alike!

Prior experience is not necessary and full training is provided. Contribute your time at a level of your choosing, while spreading awareness and enhancing appreciation of our community’s treasures; join our crusade to save history!

For details, contact Lynn Dransoff- 630.377.6424

Click here for more information



Riverbank Labs artifact loaned to the National Cryptologic Museum

In December we facilitated the loan of a rare Wheatstone-Plett cipher device from the museum collection to the National Cryptologic Museum Foundation.  The Museum, located in Ft. Meade Maryland, is developing an exhibit on William Friedman and World War I cryptology.  This device was used to create a substitution cipher, and was first invented in the 1860s by Sir Charles Wheatstone, and improved upon by J. St.Vincent Plett sometime thereafter. The British, French and Americans all tested the device during World War I and none could solve any Wheatstone-Plett cryptograms. In 1918 the U.S. considered using it as a tactical encoder. They sent it to Riverbank Labs for a final security check where William and Elizabeth Friedman, of Fabyan’s Riverbank Labs, solved the device within three hours.


The rare Wheatstone-Plett cipher device, one of 3 in the Fabyan Villa collection,

loaned to the National Cryptologic Museum in Ft. Meade, MD.


  Light up the Villa

The "Light up the Villa" campaign has successfully raised $2300, well 

over the target of $1500!  This will enable us to purchase a period fixture

in addition to the reproduction fixtures and rewiring work.  We are extremely grateful for all of the generous contributions to this project. 

The number of contributors reaffirmed our belief that the Fabyan Villa Museum is indeed a local landmark treasured by the community! 

Historic fixtures were rewired by Rehm's Electric Shop in St. Charles, and reproduction fixtures were ordered to replace missing ones.  Campaign contributors ennabled visitors to"see the light" at the Fabyan Villa--and all are sincerely appreciative!

Again, thank you for supporting our mission of historic preservation

in the Tri-Cities. 


Location & Directions

The Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden are located approximately 42 miles west of Chicago in Geneva in the Fabyan

West Forest Preserve. The Preserve is off of Route 31

(a.k.a. Batavia Avenue), 1.25 miles south of downtown Geneva.

The main entrance is on the east side of Route 31, just north of

Fabyan Parkway.


For printable driving directions click here.

For a map of the Forest Preserve click here.






Parking for the Villa Museum and Japanese Garden is located north of the main parking lot, near the restroom building and picnic pavilion. Follow signs posted in the parking lots.

The parking is 1/4 mile from the Fabyan Villa Museum and 1/2 block from the Garden. The Japanese Garden and Villa Museum are accessed from a paved path that exits the north end of the parking lot. 

Additional parking is located near the Fabyan Windmill on the east side of the Fox River.

Handicap Access

The Fabyan Villa Museum and Japanese Garden are

not handicap accessible. Access into the Villa Museum

is by stairs. The Garden path is packed mulch and crushed gravel

with several grade changes. Advance arrangements  can be made

for drop-off at the sites' entrance.

Food and Beverages

Food and beverages are not allowed in the Fabyan Villa or Japanese Garden. Food service is not offered in the Forest Preserve. However there are two picnic pavilions in the Preserve available for reservation: Call 630-232-1242


  Tips for an enjoyable visit


Please allow 40- 45 minutes for guided tours of the Fabyan Villa Museum.  Tours generally begin on the 1/2 hour. A walk through the Japanese Garden will take 10-20 minutes during public hours. 

Comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended.


NOTE:  The Villa is approximately 1 1/2 blocks from the parking lot of the Forest Preserve.  A paved road leads from the parking lot to a stepped and gravel hill path below the Villa.  Click here to see photos of path.


  Photography- Villa Museum

Personal photography of the Villa is limited to the exterior.  Commercial photography of the Museum is available by appointment only. Please call (630) 377-6424 or email fabyanvilla@ppfv.org for information.


  Photography- Japanese Garden

Personal photography of the Japanese Garden with handheld cameras is permitted during public hours.

Portrait, group, staged, special occasion or professional photography is NOT permitted during public hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday afternoons.  Reservations are required for these types of photography, and are available from the Kane County Forest Preserve Reservation Office.  Call 630-232-1242 or email kcfpres@kaneforest.com.

P.O. Box 903  |   St. Charles, IL 60174   |   Telephone: 630-377-6424    |   info@PPFV.org
Copyright © 2013 Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley