Ever wonder how our subdivision got the name ‘Old Farm Lakes’? Was the subdivision built on property where a farm once stood? Why the streets are laid out as they are and why they have the names they do? Have you ever wondered where the windmill came from? Was it originally on the land?
Founder and Developer – Vern Prenzler
To answer these questions we asked Vern Prenzler, the developer of the Old Farm Lakes subdivision. The land was purchased by Vern and his partners in 1986. The property was once part of a farm but there was no old farm-house, barns, or windmills on the land. The land had a lot of low spots and some pretty creative planning and engineering was necessary to turn it into the lovely subdivision we have today. If you look at old aerial views of the property, before the land was developed, you can see a small creek ran through the middle of the property. Managing the water flow from the nearby airport property, which is higher in elevation, was a major consideration; therefore, the concept of lakes was designed to do the job.
While working with some architects, Vern came across another subdivision near Chicago named “Old Farm”. He liked the name and wanted to incorporate it in the new rural subdivision he was developing. Vern wanted a lot of curved streets and cul-de-sacs. He also wanted a unique main entrance into the subdivision – something that really represented McLean County. He consulted with the art department at Illinois State University and the concept of using a windmill was born.
A search for a windmill was undertaken. Vern came across a large, sturdy windmill on the old Davis farm property just east of Pipeline Road and north of Interstate 55. The fifty-five foot windmill was taken down in one piece and cut down to a forty-foot height. It was placed on dollies and at 2:00 a.m. started its trip down Veterans Parkway to its present site at the corner of Old Farm Road and Oakland Avenue. The windmill was complemented by a rustic, wooden sign with the Old Farm Lakes logo. The original rustic sign was replaced in 2005 with the current brick sign that retains the original look and incorporates the same Old Farm Lakes logo.
The names of many of the streets follow the farm theme with names like Old Farm, Hayloft, Harvest, Windmill, and Weathervane. The two lakes were named Fountain Lake and Swan Lake. The center piece of Fountain Lake is, of course, the lighted fountain. For many years two swans were kept on the big lake, and therefore the name Swan Lake. The street names Fountain Lake, Swan Lake, Shoreline, and Blue Lake relate to the lakes. Streets with names like Drake, Teal, Mallard, and Cygnet bridge the concept of farm and lakes.
So where did streets like Eddy, Joslin, Lexis, Minks, Stark, and Prenzler come from? The Old Farm Lakes subdivision was developed over many years in sixteen stages. Dean Eddy did a lot of the infrastructure and street construction in the early years of the development. Dave Stark did all the infrastructure work in the later years of the development. Roger Joslin was a major financial backer during some tough times. Minks is Vern’s wife’s maiden name. Vern’s oldest grand daughter’s name is Alexis but there was already a Bloomington street with that name. Still wanting to honor his granddaughter, Vern dropped the ‘A’ and went with Lexis. Rachel, a street in the neighboring OFL Gardens subdivision, ties into Joslin and was named after a second granddaughter. The street named Prenzler is obvious. What about Cumbria? Vern had no choice. Cumbria, which ties into Old Farm Road, was an extension of an existing street in the neighboring Oakridge subdivision.
So over roughly a ten-year period, the Old Farm Lakes subdivision took shape. Vern did an outstanding job, working with many partners, architects, and engineers to build the wonderful subdivision we all enjoy. Vern and his wife, Doris, live in the subdivision. Vern promised Doris a new home when they were married. She fell in love with a home being developed on Fountain Lake and that is where Vern and Doris have lived for many years. That is a true testimonial to the quality of a subdivision – when the developer lives there for as long as Vern has.
Thanks, Vern, for a job well done. We appreciate your vision and perseverance in developing a unique and outstanding subdivision.