The community was established in 1857 on a site between the West and Middle forks of the Nodaway River. Like nearby Stanton and Red Oak, Villisca became a station stop on the east-west Burlington Northern Railroad line.
The Villisca National Bank (c. 1917) at the southwest corner of Third Avenue and Fourth Street is a narrow two-story block, mildly classical in its image. Three pilasters grace the front of the building; in the entablature above are three classical wreaths, and the projecting cornice is supported by a tight row of brackets. The detailing is rendered in smooth limestone, sharply contrasted against the red brick of the walls. At the south end of the downtown, west of Third Avenue is the Burlington Northern Railroad Station (c. 1912). Its plaster-and-brick walls and flat tile roofs seemingly look to central European Arts and Crafts architecture of the years after 1900. Brick is employed for the base of the building and for random quoining, and heavy wood struts support the extended eaves at the gable ends.
In the residential section of town is a fine, spindly two-story Queen Anne dwelling (c. 1885). This house at the northeast corner of Third Avenue and High Street displays a moon-gate pattern in wood, within which is a single rectangular window. Above this composition, on the second floor, is a tripartite window with two quarter-circles and a lunette in wood above its central window. The linear quality of the design is emphasized by the sawed bargeboards and by the pattern of turned open work of the porch and corner window.
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