Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian. This column originally appeared in the August 2013 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.
Since finding pictures of the fire at the Hoffman Estates Community Center on December 3, 1958, I’ve been thinking of how important the Gieske/Hammerstein Farm was to our early community. F & S Construction, after using the farm house as its sales office, donated the buildings and farm house to the Hoffman Estates Homeowner’s Association to be used as its community center. There were many buildings and barns on the farm. From the aerial view we have in our picture file, I can identify 3 barns and what appears to be several animal sheds. The largest barn with 2 silos was what would become the community center. Another of the barns was the fire barn for the Hoffman Estates Volunteer Fire Department.
Many fire departments from surrounding communities came to fight the massive fire. It wasn’t until the next day that the final embers were out. Newspaper stories reported that the new residents supplied hot coffee to the fireman. The community center that was the home of the first daycare center, dances and meetings for the community was completely destroyed. The Fire Barn was saved and eventually Station # 1 was opened just north of the old Fire Barn on Flagstaff Lane in November of 1960.
After incorporation in November, 1959, the 100 year old farm house became the first village hall. With the large barn gone, dances would cease and meetings were moved to the village hall. The surrounding buildings and animal sheds were torn down. The Public Works garage was directly behind the farm house and a portion of the farm house became our first Police Department along with a gas pump to serve them both.
Not all the barns were destroyed or torn down. One of them remained. The barn on the eastern end of the Hammerstein farm property would become the Boys Club in July of 1961. A massive clean-up project was undertaken to make the old barn a more suitable place for boys club activities. Baseball, softball and football were all a welcome part of the club. The large open park area, Chino Park at Flagstaff and Evanston, was ideal for all kinds of sports, picnics and games. The neighborhood boys enjoyed a place to go with their friends and really welcomed the chance to play on one of their football teams, the Titans, Trojans or Lancers.
Chico Park would also become the location for early 4th of July games and activities. The 4th of July parade took the Illinois Blvd. route for many years, as it did this year, ending at Chino for fun activities for the rest of the day.
Now, only the old farmhouse remains. Home to the Children’s Advocacy Center, it is a reminder of the Geiske/Hammerstein farm and how it played an important role in our early history.
Hoffman Estates Village Historian