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Riverbank Laboratories  Geneva


The field of cryptology can trace its roots to Col. George Fabyan and his laboratories along the Fox River. The nine-acre campus includes three historically significant buildings. Two laboratories for conducting scientific research in acoustics and engineering were built in 1918 and 1922, respectively, and a bungalow for housing staff and visitors dates to the early 1900s.



Researchers at Riverbank Laboratories included expert code breakers, whose work helped decipher enemy messages during World War I.  The Engineering Building (1922), which was designed by Fabyan who reportedly used stacks of cigarette boxes as a model, consists of stacked rooms built from surplus 15-foot steel I-beams.  After Fabyan died in 1936, he left the property to a foundation that was unable to properly maintain the site.  By the 1980s the buildings were in serious disrepair and it was feared they would be demolished for a residential condominium development. 


Fortunately, the property was purchased and sensitively rehabilitated by new owners who, not only appreciated the site’s historic and architecturally importance, but were able to reuse the Engineering Building for their own music technology business. Nearly 60 wood windows were restored, along with the installation of a new roof and gutters and stucco repairs. The bungalow has been rehabilitated for the owners’ private residence, while the third structure continues in its long-term use as an acoustical laboratory.








Landmarks Illinois
Suite 1315
53 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604 
tel. 312-922-1742 
fax 312-922-8112



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