WHO WAS MALT MAID AND WHY WERE THEY PICKING UP PUMPKINS?

January 21, 2018

This picture was recently sent to me via the descendants of Florence Catherine “Kate” Bell, who grew up in Schaumburg Township in the 1920’s and 30’s.  Her father, James Austin Bell, was, for the times, a voluminous photographer and took many photos of Stratford Farms, a Schaumburg Township farm he managed on Roselle Road that supplied poultry, produce and dairy to the Stratford Hotel in Chicago.   This was a prime example of the photos he took.

His children often appear in his photos and this one is no exception.  A young Kate is sitting on a pumpkin next to a Malt Maid Co. truck that is being loaded.  It struck me that it is rather odd that a truck advertising “Made of Malt and Hops” is picking up pumpkins.  Malt is made from cereal grains and hops come from the hop plant.  Pumpkins don’t fall into either one of those categories. Who was Malt Maid and why was a Chicago company driving all the way to rural Schaumburg Township to pick up a truck load of good-sized pumpkins?

It seems that Malt Maid was connected to the Manhattan Brewing Company, a city block sized brewery at 3901 South Emerald Avenue and Pershing Road in Chicago, that was purchased by the infamous mob boss Johnny Torrio.  According to an April 24, 1977 article written by reporter Richard J. La Susa of the Chicago Tribune, Johnny Torrio bought Manhattan Brewing, “a brewery of minor importance” in 1919.  In The Legacy of Al Capone, author George Murray states that Torrio purchased the brewery in the spring of 1919.  This was but a few short months before the Volstead Act was passed in October that gave us prohibition.

After Torrio bought the brewery, La Susa states he “changed the name of the business to Malt Maid and controlled it until 1924, when he was forced to ‘retire’ from the Chicago scene by a faction of his mob led by Al Capone.”  The timing of the name change differs in various articles and books used as research for this posting, but it is universally agreed that Malt Maid was also co-owned at various times by other mob bosses Dion O’Bannion and Hymie Weiss.  It would have obviously been a good move to change the name from Manhattan Brewing to Malt Maid with prohibition in full effect.

We know that Florence Catherine, the young girl in the photo, was born in 1917.  She looks to be about 4 or 5 years old.  This would mean the year would be either 1921 or 1922.  And clearly it’s the fall, judging by the size of those pumpkins.  Having found no mention of local breweries using pumpkins in the beer making process, I contacted John J. Binder, a University of Illinois at Chicago professor, who wrote Al Capone’s Beer Wars in 2017.

He told me that in “that era I have no information that pumpkins were ever used in the process of brewing beer.  If pumpkins were part of a Halloween tradition for children or were used to make pie more generally in autumn in the early 1920s, there are simple answers to this question. This would then probably be…O’Bannion helping Torrio (or vice versa) to deliver pumpkins to the part of the city where he controlled the bootlegging to give/sell [to] the kiddies… Again, if they were working together in bootlegging they would have helped each other out with resources such as trucking…”

It is interesting that they would have found their way to Schaumburg Township to purchase pumpkins from Stratford Farms.  Given the Farm’s connection to the Stratford Hotel in Chicago, word must have somehow gotten around that the farm provided much of the produce for the hotel–and that it was plentiful.

Hence the Malt Maid truck.  And the result?  A chance for James Austin Bell to take the photo.  Given the fact that, per La Susa, “the company’s name was changed to Fort Dearborn Products Co. in 1925,” Malt Maid was indeed a short lived name.  Which makes it fairly incredible we have this amazing photo of their appearance in Schaumburg Township!

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

 

 

 

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FIRST THE CHUCK WAGON JAMBOREE, THEN THE SHINDIG

January 14, 2018

The southeast corner of Schaumburg and Springinsguth roads, sight of the first Schaumburg Jewel, seemed the perfect spot for the small festival that was planned for Sunday, September 10, 1961.  It was a flat parcel in the center of the new Weathersfield subdivision and within easy walking distance for many of the attendees.  You can see it as the large, graded spot in the upper left portion of this photo.

The newly formed Schaumburg Lions Club named it the Chuck Wagon Jamboree and designed it for all residents of Schaumburg Township.  Tickets were available from all Lions Club members, at the Golden Acres Country Club and Roy’s Standard Station on Schaumburg Road near Roselle.

Mayor Bob Atcher was, of course, the featured entertainer as well as the Art Van Damme Quintet, a jazz group, The Four Horsemen, a barbershop quartet and the Lions’ own German band.  The mayor appeared dressed in his full two-gun cowboy dress riding Chief of Police, Martin Conroy’s horse around the area.  A beef barbecue dinner for the cost of $1.50 was also held.  Amazingly enough, the event was held from noon until midnight.

Expecting the event to be an annual affair, the Lions planned another Jamboree the following year in 1962.  The second year was quite a major affair, expanding to the three days of the August 24-26 weekend.  It included a western style dinner, a liquor booth with nickel beers, a full carnival and a Saturday night dance for the Schaumburg Teen Club featuring “The Vistas.”  Mayor Atcher was, again, one of the star performers.

Unfortunately, a rain storm on Friday night turned the area into a “sea of mud” as reported by the Hoffman Herald, forcing the Lions’ members to create wooden walkways to keep everyone from sinking.  This may have been enough to convince the Lions that they’d rather not take on such a big project because there is no further mention of the Chuck Wagon Jamboree.

Three years later, in 1965, the Weathersfield Homeowners Association sponsored their own festival called The Shindig with proceeds going towards the Schaumburg Volunteer Fire Department.  The Lions, Moose, Jaycees and Junior Women’s Club all participated.  It began as a square dance in the Weathersfield Commons shopping center and drew 2000 people.  Sandwiches, beer and soft drinks were sold.  The square dance was the big draw for 1966 and 1967 as well.  (The photo below that shows a fire engine in the parade is a donation from Richard “Bud” Napier.)

By 1968 the Shindig was sponsored by the Fire Department itself.  This year, though, the event included a parade that wove its way through the Weathersfield subdivision, east of Springinsguth.  The parade included a kids’ bike parade, ten clowns courtesy of the Jaycees, the 4-H club’s six horses and the Schaumburg VFW drum and bugle corps.

In 1969 there was a “Miss Shindig” contest.  The queen was determined by penny votes cast in stores throughout the Weathersfield Commons Shopping Center.  Kathy Rabe, who was declared the queen at a special dance at the Schaumburg Great Hall (The Barn), rode in the parade with all of her attendants.

1970 saw floats added to the parade, courtesy of the Schaumburg Park District and the Schaumburg Woman’s Club.  Water fights were also held, courtesy of the Fire Department.  A dance, featuring music by The Sound System, a local band from Hanover Park, was the culminating event on Saturday night.

The following years saw an all-star baseball game featuring players from the teams of the Schaumburg Athletic Association (1971), marching units in the parade from the Army and Marines (1972), and the parade route changing from Braintree to Springinsguth (1973).  The big change in 1974 moved the Shindig from July to the month of October.  The number of musical groups also grew to four with the Jimmy James Banjo Band, Skadarlife Yugoslavian Band, Weaver Hammond Organ and Segments of Sound.

This was the final year that the Shindig was held.  By that time, the village’s Septemberfest was well under way, having begun at Campanelli Park in 1971.  (The photo above, from Mary Ann McArthur Russell, shows one of their parades moving down Auburn Lane.)

In the growing village of Schaumburg, the need for entertainment and the growing number of service organizations worked hand in hand to produce wonderful days to look forward to.  After all, who here doesn’t remember being a kid and biding your time for that big picnic, carnival or festival that promised so much fun?  The carnival and the rides?  The eating?  The drinking?  The parade?  Attending was great and participating in some way was even better.  Thank goodness for those entrepreneurial spirits who organized these days of fun!

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

My thanks to Diana Dobrovolny for being the inspiration for this posting.  I knew about the Shindig but had never heard about the Chuck Wagon Jamboree.  Your pieces of history count!

 

THE COLBYS COME TO SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP

January 7, 2018

This is the corner of Golf and Meacham Road.  It is one of the busiest spots in Schaumburg Township.  But, when Ebenezer Colby paid cash on September 1, 1845 for the land patent on this property at the United States Land Office in Chicago, it was nothing but open grassland as far as the eye could see.

Ebenezer Colby was born October 16, 1788 in New Hampshire.  His wife, Abigail Hurd Willey, was born on January 19, 1791 in the same state. They married March 3, 1811 and had their children in Manchester, Vermont.  The children were born between 1815 and 1831 and included Ebenezer Franklin, Lucy Philenda, Rachel Horatia, Marietta Belinda and Almira “Myra”.

The family lived for a time in western New York and moved to Illinois in 1843.  Ebenezer or, Eben, as he was often called, soon became active in politics when he joined Thomas Bradwell as delegate from the Salt Creek Precinct to the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1844. (The Salt Creek Precinct was a large regional designation that was so named in the 1830s and 40s because of Salt Creek that runs through the northwest suburban townships of Palatine, Schaumburg and Elk Grove.)

By 1845 the Colbys had purchased their Schaumburg Township patent and were farming their land in Section 12, which is in the upper right portion of this 1842 map.  They bought the parcel that is the left half of the lower quarter and is a total of 80 acres.

In 1847 Eben continued his political prominence when he was elected one of five delegates to the Illinois Constitutional Convention in Springfield.  Interestingly, according to Marilyn Lind, in her book Genesis of a Township, Mr. Colby promoted a resolution that eventually passed and allowed for 5000 of the 50,000 copies of the Constitution to be printed in German.  Could this have been a reflection of the high percentage of German settlers in the Schaumburg Township area? Additionally, he also was one of seven “nays” in the final vote on the constitution. This begs the question, why would he have opposed it?

Mr. Colby also began to immerse himself in various posts in local government as township supervisor, assessor and chairman.  This was no strange consequence as his neighbor, Daniel H. Johnson, had served in the post of township supervisor before him.

Prior to his tenure that ran from 1851 to 1855, the township originally went by the name of Township 41N/ Range 10E–as is noted on the map above.  It’s not exactly a catchy name.  At some point, in the years he was in office, a lively, charged meeting occurred that seemed to have pitted the German contingent of the township against the “Yankee” contingent.  The intent was to choose a new name for the township.  The Germans were passionate about the name “Schaumburg” which was the area in Germany they hailed from.  The Yankees opted for Lutherville or Lutherburg, which may have been a nod to Martin Luther.  After much discussion, Fredrick Nerge of the German contingent–and for whom District 54’s Nerge School is named– “hit the table with the firmness of an old German soldier and shouted: “Schaumburg schall et heiten” or “Schaumburg it shall be.”   (History of Schaumburg, 1850-1900)

We don’t know how long the Colbys remained in Schaumburg Township but, at some point they moved to Elgin, most likely maintaining their property here for a few years.  It had to have been sometime in 1855 after he’d finished his service as a Schaumburg Township government official or in the following year of 1856.  We know the latter date because, in the book, Death Records in Elgin, it states that Abigail Colby died in Elgin on November 11, 1856. She was subsequently buried in the Channing Street Cemetery in Elgin.

We also know that sometime in 1851 or 1852, the Colby’s daughter, Myra, pictured above, began attending the Elgin Seminary.  E.C. Alft’s Elgin:  An American History states that “the Elgin Seminary was established in the spring of 1851 by the Misses Emily and Ellen Lord.”  On May 18, 1852 she married James Bradwell and, according to E.C. Alft’s Elgin:  Days Gone By, she “created an Elgin sensation in 1852 when she eloped, her father and brother giving chase with firearms.”

Ultimately, the marriage proved to be successful and, in fact, Myra completed legal training with the hopes of serving as a practicing attorney.  It took until 1892 for her to become one of the first–if not the first–woman in the state of Illinois to be admitted to the Bar.  Various sources differ on who attained this dramatic achievement but it is a definite possibility that it was Myra.

Meanwhile, Eben Colby continued his residence in Elgin after his wife’s death and was listed there in the 1860 census.  He was 73 years old and his profession was listed as “carpenter.”  He was living with Emily Burlington, “a female black laborer” (who was mentioned as such in the 1850 census) and a 65 year-old widow named Malinda Hall.  It is also worthy to note that on the 1861 Van Vechten plat map for Cook County, the Colby property in Schaumburg Township had been sold and was now in the hands of J.T. Thomas.

After this Eben falls off the radar.  We only meet up with him again in the same book where we last saw his wife, Abigail.  It is there, in Death Records in Elgin, that he is listed as having died on September 4, 1869 in Fort Dodge, Webster, Iowa.  He was 80 years old, 10 months and 12 days.  His extended family, with whom I have been in contact, does not know of any relative who was living in Iowa at the time and are equally befuddled as to why he was there.

But, we do know that someone thought enough of him to have his remains sent back to Illinois to be buried in the same block of the Channing Street Cemetery as his wife, Abigail.  It could have been their daughter, Myra Colby Bradwell, who was living in Chicago with her husband, who was also an attorney, and probably able to afford the cost.

Unfortunately, the Channing Street Cemetery no longer exists so we cannot capture a photo of the Colby’s gravestones.  In 1889, twenty years after Eben Colby’s death, when most remains from Channing Street were reinterred in the new Bluff City Cemetery, it is noted in the records that the Colbys did not make the move.  It is quite possible there was no gravestone for the couple and their grave site could not be determined or, very little remained if there was.

Suffice to say, the Colbys definitely made their mark on Schaumburg Township–from purchasing the available land patent, being actively involved in state and local government, to parenting children who were notable in their own right.  It was an active time in the early, formative years of Illinois and, even though the Colbys were not young people when they arrived, they made the most of the time they had.  Without Mr. Colby and his participation, Schaumburg Township might, in fact, be Lutherburg Township.  And try to imagine that on the Schaumburg Township sign on Illinois Boulevard!

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

 

 

 

 

GETTING LUNCH AT THE FROST JUNIOR HIGH “AUTOMAT”

December 31, 2017

Talking local history with the locals is always a learning experience.  I discovered that once again when I was recently speaking to Schaumburg Village trustee Jack Sullivan.  In the course of our discussion, he talked about attending Frost Junior High School in the 1960s and how the students could buy their lunches from a series of vending machines.  With what I’m sure was a puzzled expression on my face, I said, “Do you mean like an automat?”  Turns out, that’s exactly what he was talking about.

Having never heard that story before, I did some research and found a great article in the Hoffman Herald on August 6, 1964.  Interestingly, Robert Frost Junior High was actually the testing ground in the Chicago area for this style of lunch.

When it opened for the school year in 1964, Robert Frost Junior High on Wise Road was the first school built specifically as a junior high for the fast-growing, burgeoning District 54.  One of the challenges for the new school was serving several hundred students during relatively short lunch periods.

Of course, many students inevitably brown bagged their lunches, but the school district was looking for other options as well, and that’s when Barrington Vending Machine Co. stepped in to offer them an interesting solution.

The company agreed to install machines that would include “coffee (!), hot chocolate, tea and soup, a cold drink machine, an ice cream unit, a candy and pastry unit, a hot canned foods unit, a cold sandwich and salad unit, a hot sandwich unit and serving units with spoons, napkins and condiments.”  Milk would be provided by a dairy that supplied the other schools.  Frankly, for young students in 1964, this had to have seemed pretty cool.

The article noted–and remember, this was August before school started–that they were still considering the rationale of making coffee and candy available for the students.  This would have been especially pertinent given the fact that the purpose was to make a balanced meal available to the students for less than .50 a day.

Frost Junior High was expecting 800 students in the new school and they were planning to incorporate four lunch periods into the day.  The food would be fresh every day according to the contract with Barrington Vending, and a part time staffer would make sure that all of the machines were kept stocked during those lunch periods and make change for the students.

During the writeup of this blog posting, it was not possible to determine how long this vending machine food service ran but in a January 27, 1966 article it was mentioned that milk, candy and soft drinks were being dispensed through vending machines.  Further, it says, “…vending machines were placed in Schaumburg and Robert Frost Junior High Schools as a service since students remain in both schools during the lunch period.”

According to Ray Hallett however, who was a long time teacher at Frost Junior High, the school was doing split shifts of 6 a.m.-noon and noon-6 p.m. in the 1969-70 school year so there would have been no reason for a lunch period.  He and another commenter, Diana Dobrovolny, also thought they did split shifts a year or two prior so it seems that the vending machine lunches lasted only a couple of years.  This was confirmed by commenter, Marty Oliff, who said that the Frost/Keller split shift happened in the 1966/67 school year so lunch would not have been necessary for that school year either.

Thus, it appears that the Automat-style vending machine experiment lasted from the time Frost opened for the 1964/65 school year until the end of the 1965/66 term.  Because of the massive influx of students, lunch was essentially unnecessary in the junior highs until the split shift years were over.

In yet another Hoffman Herald article from September 16, 1969, it appears a company called Mass Feeding Corp. had taken over the contract and was supplying “the pre-packaged, pre-frozen hot lunch program” at District 54 and other school districts.  So, some type of vending machine service was still being used in some of the schools.  One has to suppose this was the junior highs but maybe other readers might be able to confirm this for sure.

If you’re one of those who attended Frost Junior High and took advantage of the vending machines that supplied your lunch, we would love to hear the types of food they had, how much you paid for various items and how long the program lasted.  District 54 was not only on the cutting edge in education but in lunch services too!

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

TUBING AND WINTER FUN AT FLEETWING FARM

December 24, 2017

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

Winters seem a little tamer recently.  Snow doesn’t begin in earnest until late December or early January.  Each fall we wonder what the winter will be like.  We all hope for a season that doesn’t call out the plows or our snow shovels too often.

That wasn’t the case for those of us who love snow.  When the first flakes begin to fall the sleds come out as well as the skies.  But back in the 70s there was another way to enjoy the snow and that was by flying down the hills of Fleetwing Farm on huge semi truck inner tubes.  It was a thrilling way to spend an evening with family or a bunch of your pals.

Fleetwing Farm was located at 2700 W. Central Rd. just a short distance west of Ela Rd. and east of where the  AT&T campus was located.  During the summer, horseback riding lessons, day camps, hay rides and nursery school were offered and barns for boarding horses were available.  The farm incorporated in 1959 but didn’t offer tubing in the winter until the owner Bud Bright saw tubing when he visited Winter Park in Frazer, Colorado.  Tubing would work well at Fleetwing Farm as it had the perfect hill for some winter fun.

There would eventually be three different runs.  The set up was from easy for beginners to a run for those who were a little more skilled to the killer hill. That run had snow hills placed along it that sent you  flying high and screaming down the remainder of the run trying not to run over those at the bottom who hadn’t gotten out of your way.  There was a tow rope with wooden handles that slowly took you back to the top.  There was always plenty of snow as the farm had its own snow making machine.

It cost $2 an hour including the use of the tube.  There was a warming house at the bottom of the hill were you could buy a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.  Hot dogs were also sold there.

Fleetwing Farm was very popular and could be very crowded on weekends.  There were a limited number of tubes and the crowd would wait in line for the next tube hoping that someone would be heading home.  You would find the same lines at the bottom of the hill waiting to grab onto the tow rope to head up for another thrilling ride down.  Maybe this time you’d get up the courage to try the killer run.

Fleetwing Farm is gone.  It’s not known when the tubing hills closed.  It sure was a fun while it lasted.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
eagle2064@comcast.net

SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SCHOOLS: DISTRICT 54

December 17, 2017

The District 54 School was [built sometime between 1870 and 1872] and located in Schaumburg Center on the north side of Schaumburg Road just west of Roselle Road.  [The address was 8 W. Schaumburg Road.]  Today a small shopping center named Schoolhouse Square is located on the original site.  The school was build on land that had belonged to Ernest Schween.

[Over the years, the school was called Sarah’s Grove School, Schween’s Grove School and, lastly, Schaumburg Center School.]

For the reason that many of the teachers in the one-room schools were young women with little experience, the challenges of teaching farm boys in the upper grades was daunting.  If parents deemed the learning environment in a township school was not in the best interest of their child or children, they could appeal to the Schaumburg Township Board.  The board had the authority to allow the children to attend a different township school.  If the board did not approve the transfer, the parents were responsible for tuition to a school outside of Schaumburg Township.

 

…Miss Anne Fox was a long time teacher at the District 54 School.  In 1953 she was teaching the primary grades at the school while Robert Flum was teaching the intermediate students at the District 51 School on Higgins Road.  Miss Fox continued to teach in Community Consolidated 54 Schools for many years.  In recognition of her dedication to District 54, a school in Hanover Park was named Anne Fox School.

[The school stayed in operation–probably because of its centralized location–for many years.]  After the township consolidated the public schools in 1954, the school building was used by private businesses for several years.  The interior of the building was remodeled and adapted for use as a retail store.   Five of the businesses that used the building were the R.I.C. Delicatessen (until 1971), a wrought iron store (1971-73,) Kole Real Estate, followed by FBK Realty that was owned by Jack Keller and, lastly, Koenig and Strey who were the final owners before the building was moved in 1979.]

 

[This is the school’s temporary location on the Town Square property across Schaumburg Road.  It can be seen in the middle foreground of this 1970 photo above.] It was later moved in September 1981 and restored at its current site on the St. Peter Lutheran Church property on East Schaumburg Road.  [The rededication ceremony was held as part of the Memorial Day service in 1985.]

 

Although the school was painted red for a few years, in 2010 it was restored to the original color of white.  In 2013 the school building is owned by the Village of Schaumburg, but is is leased to the Schaumburg Township Historical Society.

The text for most of 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

WOODFIELD MALL AND SCHAUMBURG IN THE “SPOT” LIGHT

December 10, 2017

We are all familiar with long running, local commercials that have been on Chicagoland television stations for years.  Victory Auto Wreckers. Empire Carpet.  Long Chevrolet.  Eddie Z’s Blinds & Drapery.  Century Tile. Bob Rohrrrrrman dealerships.  Howard Pontiac on Graaaand Avenue.  Peter Francis Geraci, Attorney.  Moo & Oink.  Eagle (Man) Insurance.  United Auto Insurance. Celozzi-Ettleson Chevrolet. Harry Schmerler, Your Singing Ford Dealer.  (I’m sure you have more but these are just a few we came up with.)

Let’s get even more local and take a look at these Woodfield and Schaumburg commercials on Fuzzy Memories TV.  They’re brought to you by The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.  If you go to the website and put “Woodfield” in the Keyword Search box at the top of the page, you’ll find commercials for Woodfield Mall itself, the Pepsi challenge at Woodfield Mall, Hollands Jewelers, and Pet World.  And don’t miss the Homemakers commercial done by actress Shelley Long before her Cheers career began!

If you change your search to “Schaumburg” you can see some of the same spots mentioned, but there’s also an ad for La Margarita that was on Algonquin Road and Schaumburg Datsun that was, of course, on Golf Road.  Other commercials for companies like Sportmart and Steven’s Bedding are unique to their brand but mention their locations in Schaumburg at the end.

It’s a pretty neat walk back in time to the 1970s.  Does anyone know or remember the people on the Pepsi Challenge?

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

WHAT THE EASY STREET REVEALED

December 3, 2017

It’s always interesting that we drive past a building for years and never take as much notice as we should.  For instance, this was the Easy Street before the recent renovations began.

Then, one day after work began on the building, I took a good, long look at this view.

Wow.  The brick is completely different on the north face of the building.  It’s a yellowish, tan brick while the west and south facades are an actual red brick.  And, what about the east facade?  Well, it looked like this before the renovation.

On closer examination, it was obvious this side had been painted at some point in time.  But, what color was beneath that brick red paint?  As this facade was prepared for tuckpointing, it was determined that the brick was in severe disrepair–to the point that it crumbled very easily.  Also discovered was that the brick was not uniform but was an amalgamation of the two different types of brick that made up the building.  This brick discrepancy, and the 1976 fire that damaged the building, must have been reason enough for the previous owners to paint over the bricks.

Today, after much brick and mortar repair and replacement, the east and north facades look like this.  (The north facade is the one with the orange tube running alongside the building.)

But, the bigger question is why was this building originally constructed with two different types and color of bricks?  Having never really noticed buildings with varying brick types, I looked around and noticed that there was another building in Schaumburg that had the same dual brick scheme.  And it wasn’t far away.

This house is commonly known as the Quindel house and is adjacent to Lou Malnati’s on East Schaumburg Road.  You can see the red brick to the left that is on the front/north facade and the yellowish brick that covers the rest of the building.  

Besides the bricks, the thing that links these two buildings, is the name Quindel.  H.E. Quindel built both his home on Schaumburg Road that is now an office building, and the tavern/hotel that we know today as the Easy Street.

Mr. Quindel was quite the mover and shaker in Schaumburg Township in the early 1900s and always had a number of schemes in the works.  The home was constructed around 1909 and was built for his wife Caroline and their four sons,  Frank, Emil, Arthur, and Alfred.  The Easy Street was built in 1911 and was operated by Charles Krueger.

It was my presumption that Mr. Quindel used two different types of brick because of the cost of the brick.  The red brick was probably more expensive than the yellow brick.  Hence, the front of his house had red brick to greet and impress any guests, and to show its best side to Schaumburg Road.  The same would be said for the Easy Street.  Red brick was used on the south side where the main doors were located and on the front/west side that faced Schaumburg Road.  (This actually says a lot for where their traffic was coming from.  Obviously, people were coming up Roselle Road from the south, which meant they were coming from the village of Roselle or, possibly, from Irving Park Road.)

I still wanted to confirm that price was probably the reason for the two different color of bricks so I put the question out on a listserv.  Fortunately, Neil Gale with the Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal, confirmed my supposition.  The yellow brick is called Chicago Common Brick and was a less expensive brick that was used on the sides and backs of apartment buildings and larger buildings in Chicago where price was an issue.  Note this photo from his blog posting on that topic.  It looks familiar, doesn’t it–and it verifies my suspicions.

When renovations and reconstructions happen, not only do we get the wonderful finished result, but we also get to see what is uncovered along the way.  The Easy Street truly is its own little archaeological dig.

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

Thank you to Neil Gale for helping me to confirm the rationale behind the two styles of brick!

 

THE EARLY DAYS OF THE HOFFMAN ESTATES FIRE DEPARTMENT

November 26, 2017

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

The Hoffman Estates Homeowners Association was the only governing body during the early years of the village. The homeowners who joined paid a small amount for membership and the village was divided into blocks that had a representative on the Homeowners Association Board.

Their Safety Committee held a meeting on December 6, 1956 with the intention of establishing a volunteer fire department. Volunteers came forward and that night a brigade was formed. The Roselle Fire Department had weekly training for the men and the volunteers obtained a long-term lease from the Home Owners Association for a barn at 640 Illinois Blvd. The barn was one of the barns on the Hammerstein property that served as the Community Center for Hoffman Estates. The volunteers converted the barn into a fire station by installing heat, sewers, facilities, concrete flooring and electricity. It was the beginning of fire protection for the village.

It wouldn’t be until April 3, 1958 that the Hoffman Estates Fire Protection District was created. It took a special Hoffman Estates Fire Department Campaign that began on Sept. 6 and ran through Sept. 14, 1957 to put forth the need for our own fire department and asked homeowners to donate $25 to help raise funds for a fire house and new equipment. Contributors received a red poster to place in the front window. It read “We Contributed to the Hoffman Estates Fire Department Campaign Fund”.

Unfortunately, a tragic fire started on the evening of Dec. 3, 1958. The fire of the historic barn and the other barns and out buildings raged for close to 2 hours. The volunteer fire department valiantly fought the flames but other fire departments were also called to fight the huge fire. They came from Roselle, Palatine and Mount Prospect. Once it was struck out, the firefighters remained throughout the next day to make sure none of the embers would flame up again.

The wind had carried vast showers of sparks onto the homes along Evanston Street, Flagstaff Lane and Forest Park Lane. Residents said it was almost like daylight several blocks from the fire. The neighbors brought hot strong coffee to the firemen. They were so afraid the fire would spread to their homes. The fire engulfed all of the other barns and the large silo.

They were completely destroyed. Due to the valiant efforts of the Hoffman Estates volunteer firemen, the barn that had become their new fire station that spring had been saved. The fire equipment had been pulled from the barn and water was constantly being directed onto the fire station to prevent it from going up in flames.

Thanks to Art Hagstrom, (now deceased) a Hoffman Estates resident, for taking fantastic pictures of the fire and the heroic efforts of the firemen as they fought to save the Hoffman Estates Home Owners Association Community Center and our first fire station.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net

Photos are used, courtesy of the Hoffman Estates Museum.  

THE FIRST WATER RESERVOIR IN WEATHERSFIELD’S “W” SECTION

November 19, 2017

This is an aerial photo of the “W” Section of the Weathersfield development in 1959.  It is at the corner of Schaumburg and Springinsguth roads.  Some things stand out.  The grading of Weathersfield Commons has already begun–or maybe that’s where equipment and trailers were kept during the construction process? There is a farm to the west–or left–of the development.  And, then, there’s a small, white, circular disk in the lower portion that appears to be almost as big as a couple of the nearby houses combined.

That disk is one of the first two community water reservoirs that were built in the newly incorporated town of Schaumburg.  This reservoir is on property that is adjacent to Campanelli School.

When Campanelli Brothers began construction of Weathersfield, the first order of business had to be a water supply for the multitude of houses they had planned.  Weathersfield Utilities, which was owned by Campanelli, built the concrete reservoir.  After a battle for control between Weathersfield Utilities and Citizens Utilities that handled water for nearby Hoffman Estates, the Village of Schaumburg opted for a municipally-owned utility such as they have today. [Hoffman Herald, August 13, 1959]

In this 1972 aerial photo contributed by John Kunzer who instigated this blog posting, you can see the round reservoir as well as the small building that housed the pump station directly below it.

This is what is left today of that reservoir.

 

When the village moved from a system of wells, storage tanks and pump stations in the 1980s to Lake Michigan water, the old water supply system was largely let go.  This reservoir was filled in and torn down somewhere between 1997 and 2000.

As John Kunzer said, “I grew-up in the W section about a block west of Campanelli. As a child in the 70s I never thought much about the big cement dome, but knew it had something to do with water. It was many years later that I realized it had been our fresh water source. I recall the well water was pretty hard, and we had a water softener under the counter in our kitchen.”

This Google image from Mr. Kunzer shows what remains today from an aerial view.

Do you have memories of any of the other obsolete water tanks in Schaumburg?  Where were they located?  Of course some tanks are still standing that are there in case of emergency.  How about the big tanks off of Wise that say “HOT” and “COLD?”  Can’t beat the village’s sense of humor on that one!

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