Award for Rehabilitation

Riverbank Laboratories


The field of cryptology can trace its roots to Col. George Fabyan and his laboratory campus along the Fox River. The nine-acre campus includes three historically significant buildings: two laboratory buildings for conducting scientific research in acoustics and engineering were built in 1918 & 1922 respectively and an early 1900s bungalow was used as lodging for staff and visitors. Researchers living and working at Riverbank included expert code breakers, whose work was used to decipher enemy messages during World War I. One of the most distinctive structures was the Engineering Building, which was constructed in 1922 and designed by Fabyan himself. The stacked rooms of equal size were constructed using his surplus collection of 15-foot steel I-beams. He is reputed to have designed the laboratory by stacking up multiple cigarette boxes as a model. Fabyan died in 1936, leaving the property in the care of 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 condominium development. Fortunately, the property was purchased and rehabilitated by a couple who appreciate the importance of the site and are able to use the acoustical laboratory for their own musical technology industry.

Support our advocacy

Be a voice for the future of our communities by supporting Landmarks Illinois. Our work enhances communities, empowers citizens, promotes local economic development and offers environmentally sound solutions.

Become A Member