CREATING BEAUTIFUL YARDS IN EARLY HOFFMAN ESTATES

May 21, 2017

Early residents of Hoffman Estates found that springtime was not what they had expected.  Many of us found ourselves surrounded by a yard that had an inch or two of topsoil and not a blade of grass anywhere.  In fact, with spring rains came the ugly muddy front & back yards.   Everyone was up to their elbows in dirt and a spring filled with landscaping chores of one kind or another.

Parcel A had ½ acre lots but the other homes that were going up quickly had smaller yards.  When they purchased their homes not everyone thought of the work that lay ahead once the winter snows had melted. Not only were the roads a nightmare to navigate that first year but now everyone had lawn work to keep them busy throughout the entire summer.

Those first neighborhoods didn’t have homes that came with trees, shrubs and lawns.  That was going to be a big undertaking for most.  Parcel A didn’t even have parkway trees since they didn’t have a parkway only a small sidewalk that went along the edge of the street.

Nothing could be done until you had the right equipment.  Wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels, seed and fertilizer spreaders and the list went on and on.  The salesman would always tell us that if you wanted to have a great lawn you needed the proper tools.  We had only one nursery and lawn equipment store in town and that was located between Higgins and Golf about where Dunkin Donuts is now.  In fact it was in Schaumburg not Hoffman Estates.   It was called Slattery’s Nursery.  They had land across the street on the north side of Golf Road where Ahlgrim’s Funeral Home is located, where they grew their stock of trees and shrubs.  Landscaping and a lawn was an expensive project for the homeowners.  Of course the salesman would want to sell you every blooming thing.

If you needed black dirt, gravel, stone or some sand for the kid’s sandbox, you were referred to Rose’s across the street on the north side of Golf just east of Valley Lake Dr.  He had everything else you needed for that beautiful lawn, especially the loads of black dirt to supplement what the builder had left behind once the house was completed.

The beauty of your lawn soon became the business of everyone on your block.  The men would compare notes on how they killed the dandelions or how they got the lawn so green.  But there were some who always enjoyed that beautiful sea of yellow and let Mother Nature take care of the lawn.

Now landscape materials are found at the big box stores or the few local hardware stores we have in our area.  The nurseries and greenhouses have moved away but what a necessity they were for the new and inexperienced home owners of early Hoffman Estates.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
eagle2064@comcast.net

SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP HISTORICAL SOCIETY OPEN HOUSE

May 20, 2017

Schaumburg Center schoolThe Schaumburg Township Historical Society will sponsor an open house of the Schaumburg Center School on Sunday, May 27, 28 and 29, 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.

SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SCHOOLS: DISTRICT 53

May 14, 2017

The District 53 School was located on about an acre  of land on the east side of Meacham Road north of the creek and south of old East Schaumburg Road.  Because the school was on the Fasse farm, many of the meetings were held at the Fasse farmhouse [and the school was often referred to as the Fasse School.]

In 2010 the daughter of Rev. John Sternberg presented a record book for School District 53 to the library.  The information for District 53 begins with the minutes from a meeting in 1860.  The school was built and was used for 26 years prior to the [nearby] opening of St. Peter East District School [which was located on Schaumburg Road at Rohlwing Road.]

Because the 8th graders of St. Peter East School District had to attend public school to be granted their 8th grade diploma, the [local Lutheran] children went to Schaumburg Township School 53 to complete the requirements for their 8th grade diploma.  The students needed to prove their proficiency in the basic skills of reading, math, English and whatever the local public school teacher deemed necessary.  The Lutheran schools were not accredited by the Cook County Superintendent of Schools and were not allowed to grant 8th grade diplomas.

The District 53 school was of simple, white clapboard construction.  The school faced the road and it had three windows on the north side and three windows on the south side.  There was a window on either side of the door for the coat room which gave light to this area.  All of the windows had shutters that could be opened and closed.  The chimney for the wood/coal burning stove was on the east wall of the school.  There was a small stoop at the door, which by the 1900s, was made of concrete.  The school did not have a bell tower.  In the Cook County Biennial Report of the County Superintendent of School from July 1, 1894 to June 30, 1896, it was reported that two of the five one-room schools in Schaumburg Township were new.  Was the District 53 School one of the two?

Since the school building was set on a hill with fields surrounding it, lightning rods were installed on the roof.  Was this installation for lightning protection done by the District 53 directors?  The picture shows two lightning rods, but pictures of the four other Schaumburg Township schools do not show rods.  …it is hard to say if the school had these rods from the time it was built or if they were installed when the area farmers placed the rods on their barns.

While talking about attending the District 53 School from 1904 to 1912, Carrie Gathman Ohlmann recalled walking from the family farm at the northwest corner of Rohlwing and Nerge Roads.  Born April 7, 1898, Carrie was the eighth of the nine Gathman children to attend this school.  The children walked through the fields following the fence lines and hedges.  It was a two-mile walk if they went through the fields, but it was three miles when they followed the roads–Rohlwing south to Nerge, Nerge west to Meacham, Meacham north to the school.  When the weather was especially bad, the children were taken to school by horse and wagon–the milk wagon.

In the spring the Gathman children liked to walk home through the fields.  When they came to the creek, they crossed it by jumping from stone to stone.  Many times they got wet or fell into the water.  Some farmers had stiles over the pasture fences, but the children always knew where the bulls were kept.  They avoided crossing through a pasture where a bull was grazing as they knew that was flirting with danger.

Carrie Ohlmann remembered two of the teachers she had in her eight years at the school.  The teachers were Miss Amelia Blix and Miss Budlong.  She stated that the teachers boarded at the Pfingsten farm on Meacham Road.

Water for the school was carried in a pail from the nearby Fasse farm well or from the creek which was south of the school.  She also mentioned getting water from a nearby spring.  Since she didn’t elaborate on the spring, the exact location is unknown.  There were several springs on the farms in that area.

The pail of water from the well was for drinking but part of it was poured into a basin, which was used for washing hands.  This water in the washbasin was kept until the end of the school day.  At that time it was thrown out.

The outhouse for the school was located to the east of the school.  There was a side for the boys and a side for the girls.  One of the chores assigned to the children was to wash down the interior of the outhouses with water and a broom.  The water for this chore came from the spring or the creek.

Carrie stated that all of the classes at the District 53 school were taught in English.  The school had a pump organ that was instrumental in Carrie’s love of music.  The teachers gave lessons to students after school and Carrie was one of those who participated.  This teacher, at the turn of the century, gave Carrie a gift that lasted her entire life.

The interior of the District 53 school was simple.  …The plain wooden pine floor was swept clean.  There was wainscoting on the walls below the windows.  The desks were mounted on wooden strips so that the strips could be moved to one side for cleaning and activities.  There was a raised platform at the front of the classroom which became a stage for plays, poetry recitations and musical programs for parents and neighborhood families.  This platform was about six inches higher than the floor.  The ceiling was covered with textured tin.

…Because the majority of the farmers in the District 53 school attendance area were Lutheran, the greater number of the children attended St. Peter East District School after it was built.  The population of the District 53 school declined to the extent that the school was closed in 1925, and the children began attending District 54 School in Schaumburg Center.  When the school was closed, William Thies bought the schoolhouse at auction for $117.

The Thies brothers moved the school from the Fasse farm site to their farm south on Meacham Road… The school desks were put in the attic, the windows were replaced with a transparent film that would let in the beneficial rays of the sun, nests were added, and a roosting area was built.  The school was painted red to match the other farm buildings and it officially became the main chicken house for the Thies family until they sold the farm and moved in 1960.  The school remained on the farm until later in the 1960s when it was demolished by Centex to make way for Elk Grove houses.

The text for this blog posting is an excerpt from Schaumburg of My Ancestors by LaVonne Thies Presley, published in 2012.  The book is an in-depth look at Schaumburg Township around the turn of the nineteenth century.  

Her particular focus was the farm off of Meacham Road where her father grew up.  However, LaVonne also took the opportunity in the text to create a detailed examination of the formation of the public one-room schools of Schaumburg Township.  In the upcoming months a posting will be shared on each of those five schools.  But, first, an introduction to the formation of Schaumburg Township public schools

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

 

 

 

SHOPPING AT HOFFMAN PLAZA

May 7, 2017

Last week, in Hoffman Plaza, the brick outline and barrel roof of the first Jewel in Schaumburg Township was revealed during the demolition of a portion of the shopping center.  The interest was overwhelming!

This week, I captured a better photo of the building now that the western portion of the shopping center is gone.  You get a good idea of the outline of the building in this photo:

This photo, from a Hoffman Highlands brochure given to me by local realtor Larry Rowan, gives you just a small hint of the interior of that Jewel:

But, the interesting thing is that another mention of Hoffman Plaza came up in conversation last week when one of the staff said that he bought shelves at the Handy Andy in Hoffman Plaza when he moved to the area.  I only knew of the Handy Andys on Golf Road and on Irving Park Road in Schaumburg but wanted to make sure that was correct.

In doing a bit of research, I discovered that there was a Handyman store that opened in the summer of 1976 in Hoffman Plaza.  The ad from the July 24, 1976 issue of the Hoffman Herald even sported a caricature of a little “Handyman” similar to the little “Handy Andy.”  Handyman was a “super hardware center” that offered shelving, lumber, tools, cookware, electrical lighting and vanities, to name a few items.

In searching, I also came across an ad for Hoffman Plaza in the December 7, 1976 newspaper that invited shoppers to meet Santa and do their holiday shopping at the following stores.  It is a nice list that captures a moment in time for Hoffman Plaza.

  • Mr. Michael’s Hairstyling
  • Bowen Ace Hardware
  • Barb Fisher Dance Studio
  • Olympic Karate
  • Russell’s Barber Shop
  • ABCO Job Center
  • Ralston Electronics
  • Century 21 McMahon Real Estate
  • Gallo’s on the Plaza
  • Ruby Begonia Plants & Macrame
  • Fashions at Large
  • Vitamin House
  • Red Squire Fashions for Men & Young Men
  • Maxine’s Clothesline
  • Jewel
  • Osco
  • Valueland–Jewelry & Beauty Needs
  • Rosati’s Pizza
  • Electronic Game World
  • Woodfield Auto Parts
  • Bell Liquors
  • Denny’s Restaurant
  • Acorn Tire
  • Hoffman Estates Currency Exchange

Not too long after the above list ran in the Hoffman Herald, this photo, compliments of the former Profile Publications of Crystal Lake, appeared in the Northwest Suburban Association of Commerce and Industry Community Profile of 1982.  It is a great depiction of the Plaza, complete with the iconic water tower.

Because there seems to be an interest, I have begun a list of the businesses that were/are based in Hoffman Plaza.  What have I missed?

  • ABCO Job Center
  • Acorn Tire
  • Allen Awards
  • Barb Fisher Dance Studio
  • Barber Shop (Stan ______, proprietor)
  • BBQ Hut (Korean restaurant)
  • Bee Discount
  • Bell Liquors
  • Ben Franklin
  • Black Forest (German restaurant)
  • Bowen Ace Hardware
  • Burger King
  • Century 21 McMahon Real Estate
  • Crest Heating & Air Conditioning
  • Dania Furniture
  • Denny’s Restaurant
  • DeRamos, Dr.
  • Electronic Game World
  • Fashions at Large
  • Gallo’s on the Plaza
  • Giant Auto Parts
  • Gold’s Gym
  • Highland Superstore
  • Hoffman Estates Currency Exchange
  • Hoffman Home Values
  • Home Center
  • Hot Dog Place
  • Jewel
  • Jockey (Asian restaurant)
  • Jupiter Cleaners
  • Lifesource
  • Maxine’s Clothesline
  • Mr. Michael’s Hairstyling
  • Midwest Outpost
  • North Beach
  • Olympic Karate
  • Olympic Torch
  • Peppermint Stick Lounge
  • Plaza Valueland
  • Ralston Electronics
  • Red Squire Fashions for Men & Young Men
  • Rosati’s Pizza
  • Ruby Begonia Plants & Macrame
  • Russell’s Barber Shop
  • Sally Beauty Supply
  • Syms
  • Thai House
  • Twinbrook Hardware
  • U.S. Post Office
  • Universal Painting Contractors
  • Valueland–Jewelry & Beauty Needs
  • Vazquez, Dr. Ivan
  • Viet House
  • Vitamin House
  • Wok ‘n Roll
  • Woodfield Auto Parts
  • Yu’s Mandarin  (First location)

The comments and nostalgia for this first shopping center have been a great addition to our local history.  Now, Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian and I wonder if, with further demolition, the outline of the Jewel letters on the front of the store might even be uncovered.  If that happens, our cameras will be ready!

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

 

SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP HISTORICAL SOCIETY OPEN HOUSE

May 6, 2017

Schaumburg Center schoolThe Schaumburg Township Historical Society will sponsor an open house of the Schaumburg Center School on Sunday, May 14, 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.

WHAT THE DEMOLITION AT HOFFMAN PLAZA REVEALED

April 30, 2017

Hoffman Plaza came up twice this week in conversation.  The first mention revolved around the demolition at the shopping center.   Hoffman Estates Historian Pat Barch wrote about the Plaza’s plans in her January 2017 column in the Hoffman Estates Citizen.  As she mentioned, the south portion of the 58-year-old plaza is being demolished.  I’ve been tracking the progress as I make my commute each day and, one day this week, while driving by, I saw this:

 

When I looked closer I realized what I was seeing.  It was the roof and brick outline of the original Jewel that opened in Hoffman Plaza.  Hidden for all of these years behind the more modern facade of the plaza were the round barrel roof and brick walls of the first Jewel to make its way to Schaumburg Township.

This Jewel opened in the summer of 1959 and faced Higgins Road.  A line of shops extending to the west towards Roselle Road were connected to it.  Snyder Walgreen Drug Agency was one of those that opened at the same time.  As Pat said in her column, Ben Franklin, Twinbrook Hardware, Turpin Fabrics & Drapery, a beauty shop owned by Frank Vaccaro and a doctor’s office opened later in 1959 and on into 1960.

Maybe you can see something more in these photos:

If you spot anything, chime in and let me know.  And, for those of you who do not live in the area, just a heads up that a Burlington Store is planned for the shopping center. (Click on the photo below and you can see the sign off to the left.)  According to a Daily Herald article from April 19, 2017, a 50,000 square foot store will open in the location of the former Dania furniture store.  With a light now at the entrance to the shopping center on Roselle Road, it should make for some easy shopping!

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

Many thanks to Pat Barch for jumping in her car to take the photo of the Jewel in the early morning hours and some of the others you see here.  Teardowns can happen so fast that it’s necessary to get there as fast as we can.  I appreciate her alacrity!

Look for another column on Hoffman Plaza next week…

WOODFIELD MALL AS IT USED TO BE

April 16, 2017

In the summers of 1977 and 1978 Steven Wilson was a young man working at McDonalds in Woodfield Mall.  It was a seasonal job and, in his spare time, he indulged his appreciation of the architecture of the mall with his recent interest in 35mm photography.

With Mr. Wilson’s permission it is a pleasure to share some of his photos with the blog’s readers.  You can view the photos on his Flickr account and see the grandeur of Woodfield Mall’s Center Court during that time.

Take note of the iconic piece of art that hung from the ceiling over Center Court.  It has been gone for a while but the colors obviously worked with those of the carpeting.  The same colors and elements of the design were also thematically reflected in the Woodfield Water Tower.  It was obviously a planned theme.

Also interesting to note are the geometric themes carried out in the sunken stage, the ceiling and the art work.  And, of course, you get a good view of the fountain, the crosswalks and the double escalators.

As far as stores go, I see Holland Jewelers, Johnson & Murphy shoes and Regal Shoes.  Do you spot any other stores that you recognize?  What, for instance, is the store next to Holland?  Or the store that has rainbow colors to the right of Johnson & Murphy?  If you can help with any names, it would be appreciated.

Many thanks to Mr. Wilson, author of the soon-to-be published Six Flags Great America, for these great photos.  We are fortunate he picked up a photography hobby at the same time he was making Big Macs and french fries!

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

SPRINGTIME ON THE FARM

April 15, 2017

The Volkening Heritage Farm at the Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg invites you to participate in an introduction to  life  on an 1880s working farm in the springtime.

This family event features such activities as plowing, blacksmithing, laundering, gardening and butter churning.  Family members will be able to participate in many other activities such as handcrafts, games and hayrides.  Refreshments will be available.  Admission is $4 per person and $16 per family.  Children 3 and under are free.

April 23, 2017   12:00 – 4:00
Spring Valley Nature Center
1111 E. Schaumburg Road
Schaumburg, IL

TAKE A TOUR OF GREVE CEMETERY

April 15, 2017

On Sunday, April 30, 2017 the Hoffman Estates Historical Sites Commission will conduct guided group tours of the Greve Cemetery on Abbey Wood Drive in Hoffman Estates.

Groups will be shown the interrelated Greve, Meyer, Ottman and Sunderlage pioneer families buried at the cemetery which is also known as Wildcat Grove Cemetery or Evangelical and Reformed Cemetery.

The event is free but reservations are required.  Tours will start at 1:00, weather permitting.  Call 847-781-2606  for reservations after Monday, April 14.

Tours are also available for small groups by appointment at other times.

THE TRADEWINDS SHOPPING CENTER OF HANOVER PARK

April 9, 2017

The year 1968 was a big one for Hanover Park.  Anne Fox School opened.  A new fire station on Maple Street opened.  And, commercially speaking, the village’s largest business venture opened as the Tradewinds Shopping Center.

In 1967 3H Building Corporation purchased the Melvin Lichthardt farm that stood at the northeast corner of Irving Park and Barrington Roads.  [From Camelot to Metropolis, Ralph Feeley, 1976]  Development began shortly thereafter, and in 1968 the $3.5 million,  200,000 square foot shopping center opened.  [Chain Store Age]

It wasn’t until 1969 that Dominick’s and Zayre, the two large anchors, opened.  Zayre opened October 8 in 80,000 square feet while Dominicks, with Bob Johnson as the manager, opened December 13 in a 30,000 square foot store that eventually expanded to 65,000 square feet.

The ad for Dominicks described it as “a truly modern and beautiful food store that was created and designed to make shopping an adventure, a pleasurable experience, the last word in exceptional convenience.”  Given away that day were 40 bushels of groceries, gifts, balloons, piggy banks, and aprons and nylons for the ladies.

The shopping center really came into its own on July 6, 1973 (per commenter Dan, below) when the Tradewinds Cinema I and II opened as twin theaters. During those intervening years between 1968 and 1973, the shopping center had boomed with the following stores:

  • Walgreens
  • Peter Pan Cleaners
  • Hanover Park Interior Lighting
  • Hanover Fabrics (November 1970)
  • Lincoln Realty
  • Tri-Village Realty

Outbuildings in the shopping center included the First State Bank & Trust Company of Hanover Park and, more popularly, the St. George and The Dragon restaurant.  This was the third restaurant in the old English-themed chain that featured pickles and peanuts at every table.

The shopping center eventually included the Hanover Park branch of the Schaumburg Township District Library, Ames and later Value City Furniture that took over the Zayre space, Rahl Jewelers, Hallmark and Radio Shack.

Unfortunately, during the first decade of the 2000’s the shopping center began to decline.  Dominick’s pulled out sometime between 2002 and 2005.  The theaters also closed during this time period.  Then, in a double whammy in 2006, the library moved to its new branch on Irving Park Road and Menards purchased the entire shopping center property for about $9 million in preparation for their new store that stands there today.

This perpetually busy corner, with the Tradewinds Shopping Center as its anchor, was a go-to spot for anyone living in Hanover Park for many years.  Many stores came and went over the years besides those listed above.  Can you help complete the list?  Send in your comments or email me at the address below and I’ll add them as they come in.  Thanking you in advance for your inclusions!

Businesses in the Tradewinds Shopping Center:

  • Allied Electronics
  • Ames
  • Blockbuster Video in the outlot on the corner
  • B. Dalton bookstore in the Library location before the library
  • Collin’s Fireplace and Patio
  • Corky’s lunch counter in the Walgreens
  • Dominick’s
  • First State Bank & Trust Company of Hanover Park
  • Full House (formerly St. George and The Dragon)
  • Hair Cuttery
  • Hallmark
  • Hanover Fabrics
  • Hanover Park Interior Lighting
  • Hit or Miss
  • Just Jeans
  • Leslie’s Pool Supplies
  • Lincoln Realty
  • Peter Pan Cleaners
  • Rahl Jewelers
  • Rent-A-Center
  • St. George and The Dragon
  • Star Cleaners
  • Swanson’s Crafts and Hobbies (Jack Swanson, proprietor)
  • Three Flags Restaurant
  • Toni’s Conversation Clothes
  • Tri-Village Realty
  • Value City Furniture
  • Walgreens
  • Zayre

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

[The photos were taken by the library prior to the Hanover Park branch moving into the shopping center in 1993.]