Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian. This column originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.
The Gieseke/Hammerstein farm house is one of the most historic buildings in Hoffman Estates. It can be found on a quiet residential street surrounded by small ranch homes that were built in 1957 and 1958.
John and Caroline Gieseke were immigrant German farmers who bought their 165-acre farm from the U.S. Government in the mid 1850’s. Land sold for $1.50 an acre. An Indian trail went through the farm and Pottawatomie Indians would stop for a cold drink or sit and rest on the front porch.
The third generation of Giesekes, John and Edwin, sold the farm to Arthur and Dorothy Hammerstein in 1943. The Hammersteins added additional barns, new silos, and several smaller homes along with an additional 100 acres. They hired Architect Thomas McCaughey of Park Ridge who made major changes to the old farmhouse. When finished the newly renovated farmhouse had 5 bedrooms, seven bathrooms, servant quarters, a kitchen in the basement and a wine cellar.
Arthur was the uncle of Oscar Hammerstein II who was famous for his Broadway musicals and Dorothy was a silent movie star. Dorothy especially enjoyed the quite rural life. Their farm was known as “Cardoa Farm” but Arthur jokingly called it “Headacres” when the farm work got the best of him. They raised pure blooded and registered Duroc Jersey hogs and Holstein dairy cattle.
When Arthur died in 1954, Dorothy sold the farm to F & S Construction for $150 an acre. Within a year Hoffman Estates was springing up from the corn fields. The farm house became the field headquarters for F & S Construction. The largest of the barns became the first Community Center but on Nov. 11, 1959 a fire broke out and the barn burned to the ground. Another fire damaged part of the farmhouse.
Shortly after the fires Jack Hoffman deeded the property to the Hoffman Estates Home Owners Association. With incorporation in Sept. of 1959, the farmhouse became our first village hall, police department and maintenance garage. Fire insurance money along with an additional $19,500 was used to remodel and repair the 100 year old building. Certified Construction Co. was awarded the bid in late Sept. of 1960.
The village hall grounds originally had a duck pond and several swamps. The five acre site also had 75 trees, among them were 19 apple, 5 pear and 4 cherry trees. Eventually the pond and swamps were filled in and the old silos torn down.
When the Village moved to their new home on Gannon Dr., the large white farmhouse was used by Health and Human Services and later became home to the Children’s Advocacy Center. Through the efforts of Mayor O’Malley, the trade’s people from 20 local trade unions took on the aging farmhouse as a remodeling project. Their volunteer work and donation of time and materials earned the Village the 1993 Governor’s Home Town Award. The Center pays $1 a year for rent and many volunteer hours are still donated toward the upkeep of the now 150 year old farmhouse.
Hoffman Estates Village Historian