The Village of Orangeville, IL, got its start in 1823, when John Curtiss built a gristmill along Richland Creek — a spring-fed stream suitable for water mills near the location where High Street crosses the creek today. After Curtiss passed away, the mill fell into disrepair until it was bought and renovated in 1833 by John Bower, a settler from Pennsylvania.
Soon, other farmers joined Bower. They hailed from New York and Pennsylvania, and many of them were of German descent. They settled along the banks of Richland Creek. In 1849, Bower completed his farm residence, Union House, and in 1851, he platted the surrounding land as a village he named "Orangeville." The gristmill, which was still in business, serviced the agrarian economy, as did a creamery, wagon maker and one of the area's largest general stores.
The village was incorporated in 1867, and experienced a population boom in 1887, when the Illinois Central Railroad arrived. Many of the historical brick buildings comprising the downtown area date back to that time. The second growth spurt occurred post World War II, when returning veterans settled down to work at factories in nearby cities like Freeport, IL, and Monroe, WI. Between 1990 and 2000, Orangeville's population increased from 451 to 751, with the annexation and subdivision of surrounding farmlands.
To this day, the commerce in Orangeville, IL, continues to serve its residents as well as those of the surrounding agricultural region.
Orangeville, IL, has maintained many of its historical properties, five of which are listed on the National Register for Historic Places. To follow is a brief overview of each.
The William Ritzman Residence
A Greek Revival home built in 1848, this one of the earliest brick farmhouses in the area. The Ritzman house lies just south of the Village of Orangeville's limits on Church Street.
Completed in 1849, this is one of the few Gothic Revival residences in the village. Located at 209 W. High Street, the house was the home of village founder John Bower. Originally platted on the north edge of the village, it was the home of the first three doctors to live in Orangeville, IL.
AF & AM (Masonic) Lodge 687
This lodge was built in 1877, serving as the first public forum in the village. It has housed the Orangeville Masonic Lodge continuously since it opened. Today, after major restoration, the first floor serves as the venue for the Mighty Richland Players Dinner/Desert Theater, and still serves as a public forum, hosting community dinners and other events. The Lodge is located at 203 W. High Street.
Built in 1888, this was the Village of Orangeville's second hotel. It was built on the site of the first hotel, which was destroyed by fire the previous year. The builder of the first hotel was John Bower, and Bower's son-in-law, John Hoyman of Lena, was responsible for building the second hotel. Located at 210 W. High Street, it is currently a private residence.
The People's State Bank
Constructed in 1926, at 300 W. High Street, this was the village's third bank — built after a merger of Orangeville State Bank and People's Community Bank. In 1932, it became home to the Orangeville American Legion. In 1956, it reopened as Orangeville Community Bank, which remained until 1980 when the building was sold into private hands. Today, the completely restored building hosts occasional community events and is privately owned.