Town History

In the spring of 1837, John Bruce, Jr., of New York State, purchased all of Section 27 that is the present site of the Village of Darien. He built a log house that was also used as a hotel, where the Methodist Parsonage now stands.

A settlement sprang up called “Bruceville” and kept the name until 1840, when it was renamed Darien, after Darien, New York, the previous home of several families of influence in the community.

He immediately set aside a strip of land consisting of three acres in perpetuity to be known as The Commons. This was a place for soldiers to drill and later became known as Bruce Park. The trail next to The Commons was an Indian trail that later became a territorial road. This was used as a military road connecting Fort Dearborn (Chicago), and Fort Madison and Portage.

John Bruce was the first postmaster when the post office was established in 1839. The first town meeting was held in the Bruce home in 1842. In 1845 he was made chairman of the Board of County Supervisors. The Commons continued to be the center of the village until the railroad came through in 1856. At this time the businesses moved from around The Commons to Wisconsin Street and the village was called, for a time, “New Darien”. Bruce built a large grain warehouse in 1857 with a capacity of 5,000 bushels. At the same time he was part owner of a general store.

The telegraph arrived in 1861.

The first regular school building in the village known as District No. 7 was erected at 124 S. Walworth Street. In 1858 a two story brick building was erected, with an addition added in 1869. This was used as the Darien Public School until 1903, when a new grade and high school building was built directly across the street.

(To learn more about the history of the Town of Darien there is a notebook with more articles and pictures located at the Town Hall).