WHAT WAS THERE BEFORE WOODFIELD?

September 24, 2017

I get asked that question a lot.  And now, through the generosity of Richard Frank, a frequent reader of the blog, we are able to see for ourselves what the eastern edge of Schaumburg Township looked like before Woodfield Mall rose from the ground.

The photos belonged to his father who found them in a desk drawer when he worked for Sears. It took some time to figure out what he was looking at but, once he did, he hung onto them.  Sensing their historical value, Richard was kind enough to donate them to the library.

These aerial photos were taken on September 26, 1969 by Airpix, which was based on North Laramie in Chicago at the time.  We have to assume that the developers of Woodfield hired Airpix to take the photos just as development of the mall was beginning.  The views are from four different angles so it’s possible to get a 360-degree sense of the area.

This first photo looks towards the southwest at the large Woodfield plot.  Off to the left of the property, we can see several trucks gathered near the long diagonal, dirt road that stretches to the middle of the plot.  It appears that the construction trailer for the project is far to the right, along Golf Road.

While it’s impressive to see the enormous scale of the project, it’s just as interesting to see what skirts the property.  Note Route 53 in the foreground of the photo–or Rohlwing Road–as it was often called at the time.  A cloverleaf is in place to allow traffic flow from two-lane Golf Road to merge onto 53.  Having seen other earlier, aerial photos, I believe this cloverleaf was relatively new at the time.  It was clearly designed around the four lane bridge that goes over Golf Road.  Another interesting point is that there seems to be a rise in Golf Road just west of the cloverleaf.  Does anyone remember this before Golf Road was graded to a more flat terrain?

It is hard not to notice the farm in the foreground with its large white barn.  It is the Rohlwing farm.  The family, in fact, sold a portion of their property for the Woodfield development.  The home place on the east side of Route 53 was eventually sold to the Cook County Forest Preserve.  The barn was used for years as a maintenance location and was only torn down within the past decade.

The subdivision of Lexington Fields Estates in the background of the photo was begun in in the late 1950s and is obviously flourishing. The trees are well established and there is easy access to the four-lane Higgins Road that runs adjacent to the subdivision.

A very narrow Meacham Road bisects the back of the photo.  In addition, there are two other farms that are still obviously still operating.  The Edward Koenig farm is in the grove of trees in the top left corner.  The farm in the back center of the photo is the Emil Freise farm.  Notice the long lane off of Higgins Road that leads to the house.  You can barely see the telephone poles along the lane.  It is possible the small farmette to the right of this farm belonged to one of Emil’s brothers.  In the 1954 Farm Plat Book published by Paul Baldwin & Son, the initials H.F. are near that piece of property.  (He had brothers named Herman and Henry.)

This photo looks due south so we get a good view of the Woodfield site and Lexington Fields Estates.  Again, it’s a good idea to look at the periphery and catch a few things that become more obvious with a different perspective.

First of all, it’s possible to see that there IS a slight rise in Golf Road on the eastward approach to Route 53. We can also tell that Route 53 is a two lane road to the south of its intersection with Golf.

And, take a look at that jog Route 53 takes a bit south of the Golf Road cloverleaf.  Frankly, in looking at that area around Higgins Road, it’s pretty clear that work had already begun on a clover leaf at that intersection too.  We can see in this view that the main construction facility–for possibly both the mall and the roads–was on that curve and not in the trailer along Golf Road.  So, when the village fathers got started with Woodfield, they also started planning for the infrastructure that would make getting there much more feasible.

Isn’t it interesting to look further south on Route 53 and note a couple of roads intersecting with just a simple stop sign?  Imagine that today!  Also, note the big pond in the upper left of the photo and the smaller pond just beyond it.  Those are the former gravel quarries at the L.A. Scharringhausen Material Co.  They are now part of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District property.  The quarries began operation in the early 1950s under Scharringhausen.

Note, too, the many small groves of trees that are in the area.  The larger grove in the right background of the photo is today’s Spring Valley.  It was owned by Frank Merkle in 1969 and was even then a beautiful oasis in an arena of fields.

This view looking northeast gives us a completely different, more suburban perspective.  We can see Arlington Heights and Rolling Meadows in the background.  The Northwest Tollway (I-90) intersects the middle of the entire photo with the much larger cloverleaf at Route 53 clearly visible.

The Woodfield Garden apartments, nestled in the northwest corner of the Northwest Tollway and Route 53, are visible as is the round parking lot of Pure Oil just below.

To the east of Route 53 is the all concrete AT&T building in Rolling Meadows.  This building was later renovated by 3Com in 1998 and is now the Atrium Corporate Center.   To the right of AT&T is the former Chemplex / Quantum Chemical Company / Helene Curtis / Unilever building that was purchased by Weichai America around 2012.  It was newly built when this photo was taken in 1969.   In the very middle background are the radomes on Central Road in Arlington Heights across from the relatively new Northwest Community Hospital.  These were being used at the time by the Arlington Heights Air Force Station.

This is a similar view with a more westerly slant.  The plane was a bit higher and further east so it gives us a greater perspective of northwestern suburbia.  We get a wonderful view of the magnificent Pure Oil property with its unique, circular parking lots.  Compare those lots to the regular, square parking lots of AT&T and Chemplex.  They are a combination of whimsy and futuristic design.

Also more visible are the many apartments in the Woodfield Garden complex.  Across Route 53 is the site of the future Rolling Meadows Holiday Inn. The hotel is in the same state of construction as the Woodfield site and opened in 1970.  If you look further back in the center of the photo you can see the round oval of the Arlington Race Track.  To the left of the track is the multi-story Arlington Hilton.  You can also see the big curve Route 53 takes going north.

If you spot something else I haven’t seen, please let me know.  I’m happy to add the details.  And, let’s once again thank the Franks for keeping these marvelous photos for so many years.  In addition, we must thank Barbara Perricone, President of the former Airpix company for granting permission to share these photos.  It all rolled into a wonderful opportunity to view our area’s history from the air.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

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LEISURE WORLD ALMOST CAME TO HOFFMAN ESTATES

September 17, 2017

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

 

In August of 1965 Hoffman Estates annexed 3,700 acres bounded by Barrington on the east and Sutton Rd  (Rt 59) on the west with Bode Rd on the south and Interstate 90 on the north.  The land was purchased by the Rossmoor Corporation of California who had plans to develop the area into a 50,000 resident senior complex with a huge shopping center that would be the largest in the northwest suburbs.

Mayor Jenkins and the village trustees were looking forward to the taxes that would be generated by the huge project.

Rossmoor had financial problems in 1966 that prevented the corporation from moving forward with their plans.  They had already built a sales office on the north side of Golf Rd. west of Barrington Rd. The building is still there. For a time it was a newspaper distribution site.  They also had a sales trailer located at the Hoffman Plaza parking lot.

Rossmoor Corporation has been very successful with senior retirement communities throughout the country.  The majority of their communities are in California.  There are other senior communities in Arizona, Marilyn and New Jersey.

If the Leisure World project would’ve gone forward it would have made a big difference in the growth of our village.  Hoffman Estates was not happy about the loss of the 3,700 acres.  It had always been planned for development to increase the village tax base.   Due to its failure, we gained forest preserve land which is more than any other town in Illinois has within its boundaries.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

The photo of the building is used courtesy of Google Maps. 

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF EDUCATION, 1870 TO 1970

September 11, 2017

Join the Hoffman Estates Museum for another upcoming “living history” presentation.  Learn about the one-room schoolhouses in the township as well as the early schools of Hoffman Estates.  (The Lindbergh School on Shoe Factory Road is pictured above.)

When:  Saturday, September 23, from 1:00 – 3:00

Where:  Hoffman Estates Village Hall

Who:  For more information, contact Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Historian at 847-755-9630 or eagle2064@comcast. net

It is also the Village’s 58th birthday, so come out and enjoy a piece of birthday cake!

HENRY MEYER PURCHASES LAND PATENTS IN 1848

September 10, 2017

Horace P. Williams. Johann Sunderlage. Frederick Nerge. Charles Meacham. Ebenezer Colby. Henry Myers.

All of these gentlemen have one thing in common. They were all original settlers of Schaumburg Township and purchased the first land patents sold by the federal government.

But one of the gentlemen is unique.  Henry Myers made the trip from New York City to purchase land on behalf of the Jewish Settlement Society. (Henry’s name is noted as both Myers and Myres in the federal land patents but every other document, including future census, have his name as Meyer.  That is the spelling we will use.)

He was sent by William Renau who was one of the founders of the Independent Order of B’nai B’rith in New York.  Mr. Renau encouraged his fellow members to lift them themselves up from “the low plane they occupied in economic and social life as peddlers.”  He felt that purchasing land and engaging in farming was the key to a better life.  [History of the Jews of Chicago; Meltes, 1924]

Mr. Meyer set out for the Chicago area and after scouring the vicinity for a few weeks, chose two parcels of land that he felt were most favorable.  The property was in Sections 9 and 10 of Schaumburg Township.  Those parcels today would be near the intersection of Roselle Road and State Parkway and extend westward towards Jones Road.  In his report to the Society, he stated that “this part of the land, especially the town of Chicago, opens a vista into a large commercial future.”

He wasn’t far off.  Find Sections 9 and 10 at the top of this 1935 topographical map.  You will notice the land at this point is rolling and that there is even a stream flowing through the area.  It would have been perfect to have such a nice vantage point and water close by.

Mr. Meyer purchased 160 acres in both sections, bringing the total to 320 acres.  Land was going for $1 to $1.25 an acre.  Both parcels were issued on June 1, 1848.  This simple but significant purchase made Mr. Meyer the first Jew to purchase property in Cook County.  [History of the Jews of Chicago; Meltes, 1924]

His enthusiasm for the site drew other members of the Jewish Settlement Society to follow him to Schaumburg Township, including his brother-in-law, Moses Kling.  Only a couple of the members eventually bought land nearby.  Most either chose to return east to Chicago or went further afield in Illinois and points westward.

Mr. Kling and his wife, Regina, settled in Palatine in Section 29 for a number of years.  This was both due north of Mr. Meyer’s property and of Algonquin Road.  According to the 1884 History of Cook County by A. T. Andreas, the Klings house served as a post office for Palatine Township in the mid 1850s.

The Klings are also listed in Palatine Township as of the 1860 census.  Mr. Meyer, though, had already sold his property and moved to Chicago. According to History of the Jews in Chicago, Meyer continued his land purchases and began investing in real estate.  In fact they list him as the first Jewish real estate dealer in Chicago.

Unfortunately, we lose track of Mr. Meyer after this point.  However, it IS possible to follow the Klings.  They were living in Chicago by the 1870 census.  According to findagrave.com, Moses died in 1872 and Regina died in 1885.  Both are buried in Zion Gardens Cemetery.  Is it possible Mr. Meyer is buried there too in an unmarked grave?

Despite the difficulties in tracking Mr. Meyer’s life past Schaumburg Township, it is good to know of his importance to both our township and Cook County.  Of all of the areas he scouted in the larger Chicago area, it was Schaumburg Township that caught his eye and captured his imagination.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

SCHWEIKHER HOUSE TOUR 2017

September 8, 2017

In the village of Schaumburg there, is only one building on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is a hidden gem that, for many years was a private residence.  Known as the Paul Schweikher House, this home was built in 1938 by Mr. Schweikher, a renowned architect who lived on the 7 acre site until 1953 when he moved to Connecticut to head Yale University’s architecture school.

You now have an opportunity to view this local architectural wonder.  The Schweikher House Preservation Trust, in conjunction with Docomomo Tour Day 2017, is pleased to offer tours of this Prairie-styled home.

The house will be open to the public for pre-scheduled, 50-minute tours on Saturday, October 7, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The cost of the tours is $25 per person, paid in advance of the event with a maximum of 12 persons per tour. For registration, visit http://schweikherhouse.org/tours/, call Executive Director Todd Wenger at (847) 923-3866 or email info@schweikherhouse.org.

Tours of the house will feature Schweikher’s masterful integration of brick, glass, and wood, including an iconic brick fireplace, passive solar room, cantilevered construction, exposed wood beams, built-in furniture, a Japanese soaking tub, raked gravel courtyard, and gardens designed by the noted Midwestern landscape architect Franz Lipp.

This event is being sponsored by the Schweikher House Preservation Trust   For information about the house, please visit www.schweikherhouse.org.

RENOVATING THE EASY STREET PUB

September 3, 2017

If you’ve been driving down Roselle Road near the Schaumburg Road intersection, you have probably noticed there’s something going on with the former Easy Street Pub at 17 Roselle Road.

Schaumburg village addressed these changes in their e-newsletter:

“Easy Street Pub was recently purchased and is undergoing some restoration and maintenance…The new owners are working to protect the building with tuckpointing, waterproofing and other improvements. The village is working with ownership to attract a new restaurant to the site that will be a destination for years to come.”

These photos were taken on August 2, 2017 shortly after work began at the end of July.

You’ll notice the windows have been completely removed but the doors are still intact as well as the gray siding.  It also appears they are doing extensive brick work on the south side of the building.

Three weeks later on August 20, the building looked like this…

The scaffolding has been removed on the south side where the brick work was being done at the top of the building.  In comparing photos, we can tell that the restructured brick was restored to its original look.

It’s interesting, too, that the two tall doors on the south side that had been boarded up for years have been removed.  It is also possible to see clear through the structure.  We can see that the building has been taken down to its studs.

Nine days later, on August 29, the building now looked like this…

It’s starting to come together, isn’t it?  The brick definitely looks refreshed, although the gray siding and gray painted front door still remain.

For comparison’s sake, let’s look at the earliest rendition of the building.  This 1913 postcard shows the structure shortly after it was built by H. E. Quindel in 1911 and after Charles Krueger began leasing it as a tavern/hotel.

Notice the large windows in the front and the multiple doors on both visible sides of the building.  Not only can we see the two doors on the diagonal but there are also two doors on the south side as well as two doors in the middle of the front facade.

Below is a photo of the building from the 1920s when it was called the Schaumburg Inn.  It still has the same look although it is interesting to note the steps that have been added to the front.  Clearly the road was graded and paved sometime between the two photos.  At this time Frank Lengl was the owner and was at the beginning of his 50 some-odd-year-tenure.  However, he had yet to paint the sign on the side of the building that advertised his chicken and steak dinners.

It will be interesting to watch as the final renovations emerge–both inside and out.  This historic building is a Contributing Structure in the village’s Olde Schaumburg Centre Historic District.  It’s wonderful to see that it remains an integral part of the heart of Schaumburg Township.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

 

SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP HISTORICAL SOCIETY OPEN HOUSE

September 2, 2017

Schaumburg Center schoolThe Schaumburg Township Historical Society will sponsor an open house of the Schaumburg Center School on Sunday, September 10, 2017.  The open house will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The schoolhouse is located on the St. Peter Lutheran Church property.

Constructed in 1872–and first called Sarah’s Grove School, it is believed to have been the first of five public schools in Schaumburg Township. It was later renamed Schween’s Grove School and called Schaumburg Centre Public School until 1954. For 82 years, the building served as a one-room schoolhouse, and was the last active one room schoolhouse in District 54.

With the widening of Schaumburg Road, the building was saved from demolition and temporarily placed on the grounds of the Town Square Shopping Center in 1979. It was permanently relocated to the St. Peter Lutheran Church property in September, 1981. It has been fully restored as a museum and is under the auspices of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society.

POPLAR CREEK’S 7TH SEASON 1986

August 27, 2017

 

In 1986 Billboard magazine ranked Neil Diamond as the most commercially successful solo performer of the year.  If appearances at Poplar Creek were any indication, they definitely contributed to this impressive ranking.

Even though Neil Diamond wasn’t selling as many albums in 1986, his concerts were still a hit.  Poplar Creek started the season with three Neil Diamond shows in the lineup (July 8-10) and quickly sold out the pavilion seating.  When the lawn seating started to go in a hurry too, they added an additional two shows on the 11th and 12th.  Additionally, his shows were the most expensive of the season, coming in at a whopping $23.50 a ticket!

The only other performer that season who added an additional show was Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band.  His first show–pavilion and lawn seating–sold out in a red hot hurry too.

Whitney Houston was also at the top of her form and it showed by virtue of the fact that she signed on for two shows.  1986 was a huge year for her.  She was nominated for three Grammies and won for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female for her hit single “Saving All My Love For You.”  Her performance of that song at the Grammies earned her an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program.  She was HOT that year and those who saw the shows were fortunate!

And, since we’re keeping track, the only performers who had performed every year since the theatre opened in 1980 were still Jimmy Buffett and Willie Nelson!  Music machines.

It’s also interesting to note which of the backup bands became famous in their own right.  Metallica, Randy Travis, The Bangles and Fine Young Cannibals certainly leap to mind when viewing the list.

May 25   Reba McEntire

June 6   Johnny & the Leisure Suits with Steve Dahl & Garry Meier

June 7   Alabama

June 15   Joe Jackson

June 19   The Chick Corea Electric Band, Wayne Shorter and Al DeMeola

June 20   Stevie Ray Vaughn with the Fabulous  T-Birds

June 21   Stevie Nicks with Peter Frampton

June 22   Depeche Mode with The Book of Love

June 25   Eddie Murphy with the Weather Girls

June 28   Willie Nelson

June 29   Bob Dylan with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

July 1   Julian Lennon with Chris Bliss

July 2   Kool and the Gang with Van Gunter

July 3   The Judds with Gary Morris

July 5   Moody Blues with The Fixx

July 6   Jimmy Buffett

July 7   Robert Palmer with Bourgeous Tagg

July 8,  Neil Diamond

July 9   Neil Diamond

July 10   Neil Diamond

July 11   Neil Diamond

July 12   Neil Diamond

July 13   Ozzy Osbourne with Metallica

July 14   Jackson Browne with Peter Case

July 15   The Cure with Phil N’ Blanche

July 19   .38 Special with Honeymoon Suite

July 25   Santana

July 26   Bobby Vinton

July 27   Manhattan Transfer

August 1   Starship with The Outfield

August 2   Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme

August 3   Billy Crystal with Randy Newman

August 4   Pointer Sisters

August 6   Air Supply

August 7   The Monkees with Herman’s Hermits, Union Gap and Grass Roots

August 8  The Oak Ridge Boys with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

August 9  The Temptations and The Four Tops

August 10   Judas Priest with Krokus

August 12   James Taylor

August 15   Bob Seger with The Fabulous Thunderbirds

August 16   Bob Seger with The Fabulous Thunderbirds

August 17   Mr. Mister with The Bangles

August 20   John Denver

August 21  Eurythmics

August 22  George Benson

August 23   Elton John

August 24   Loverboy with Dokken

August 25   Anne Murray

August 26   Steve Winwood with Jimmy Cliff

August 27   Beach Boys with Katrina and the Waves

August 29   UB 40 with Fine Young Cannibals

August 30   Whitney Houston

August 31   Whitney Houston

September 1   Andreas Vollenweider

September 4   AC/DC with Loudness

September 5   Patti LaBelle with Woody Henderson

September 6   Hank Williams Jr. with Earl Thomas Conley

September 19   Barbara Mandrell with Randy Travis

Does anything else in this list catch your eye?  Did you attend any of the shows?  I know I went to the Anne Murray show because the library had tickets.  I remember she made a special point about welcoming us to Hoffman Estates on a Monday night.  It was a pretty darned good show and the fact that we had pavilion seating made it all the better!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP HISTORICAL SOCIETY OPEN HOUSE

August 26, 2017

Schaumburg Center schoolThe Schaumburg Township Historical Society will sponsor an open house of the Schaumburg Center School on Saturday through Monday, September 2, 3 and 4 2017.  The open houses will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The schoolhouse is located on the St. Peter Lutheran Church property.

Constructed in 1872–and first called Sarah’s Grove School, it is believed to have been the first of five public schools in Schaumburg Township. It was later renamed Schween’s Grove School and called Schaumburg Centre Public School until 1954. For 82 years, the building served as a one-room schoolhouse, and was the last active one room schoolhouse in District 54.

With the widening of Schaumburg Road, the building was saved from demolition and temporarily placed on the grounds of the Town Square Shopping Center in 1979. It was permanently relocated to the St. Peter Lutheran Church property in September, 1981. It has been fully restored as a museum and is under the auspices of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society.

HOFFMAN ESTATES HISTORICAL SITES COMMISSION NEEDS YOU!

August 20, 2017

Do you live in or near Hoffman Estates?

Are you interested in the ongoing history of your town?  Have you been to the Sunderlage Farm?

Have you seen the Sunderlage Farm smokehouse that is on the National Register of Historic Places?

Have you taken a tour of the Greve Cemetery?

If any of these sites interest you and you’d like to get involved, the Hoffman Estates Historic Sites Commission is looking for some enthusiastic volunteers to join their group.  Take a look at this video to find out more:

And, if you’re properly enticed, contact Sue Lessen at the Village of Hoffman Estates for additional information.  847-781-2606

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org