LOUIS MENKE: THE BUILDER OF EARLY SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP

This house is probably familiar to all who live in Schaumburg Township.  It is unique for its Queen Anne style and the time period in which it was built.  With its distinctive turret, the house can be found at 17 East Schaumburg Road in Schaumburg.

It was built in 1901 by Louis Menke who lived there with his wife, Eliesa “Lizzie” (Pelletier) Menke and their children Meta, Edwin, Frank, Herbert, Arthur and Louis.  Over the years he made a number of improvements to the house and some of these were documented in early versions of the Daily Herald.  

For instance, in 1905, Louis was one of a number of residents of the township to get telephone service in his house.  The year 1915 was a big year for renovations.  The March 5 edition says, “Louis Menke has been busy excavating his cellar to install a furnace.”  This is followed by the April 23 edition that says, “Louis Menke is improving his premises by laying of cement walks; he also had his barn raised and placed on a cement foundation.”

It is presumed Louis built this house as a showplace for his construction skills because, in the following two decades, he quickly became one of THE contractors for Schaumburg Township and the surrounding area.  Some of the buildings are still in existence and it is possible to note how varied the styles are.  It is obvious, too, how skilled Mr. Menke was.

Listed below are entries from versions of the Daily Herald, Genesis of a Township by Marilyn Lind and personal accountings by local residents.  It should also be noted that two of Mr. Menke’s grandchildren noted in their oral history that he built many of the barns in Schaumburg Township.

1901      The home of Otto H. and Emilie (Meyer) Becker in Roselle on Prospect
Street.  According to their granddaughter, LaVonne Presley, “it was the first home in Roselle to have running water.  Otto sold windmills and water tanks.  He had a windmill constructed between the house and barn.  The water was pumped into a tank and the water flowed down to the kitchen and bathroom.  They also had the first septic field in Roselle.”

August 29, 1903 Herald     “Louis Albrecht has built a nice new house on his farm. Of course the job is O. K. because be had first-class workmen.  Henry Meyer and Son did the mason work; Louis Menke was the carpenter and Fred Kun? is the painter.”

1904 (Genesis of a Township)     ‘St. Peter Lutheran Church steeple.  On July 11 lightning struck the wooden steeple of the church on Schaumburg Road.  Menke was paid $891 to rebuild it.”

September 1, 1905 Herald    “Louis Menke built a new machine shed on Henry Thies’ place.”

October 20, 1905 Herald     “Louis Menke has finished H. Volkening’s new residence which looks up-to-date.”

December 8, 1905 Herald     ” Chas. Wsthager has bought of Schauble & Becker a 12-hp. gas engine to run his feed mill, corn shredder, pump water, etc.  Louis Menke built a new house for the machine.”

February 9, 1906 Herald     “Louis Menke has finished the new store and John Fenz & Son have already filled it full of hardware.  Watch for their grand opening.”  [This store was the remodeled Quindel Hotel that was on the southeast corner of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads.]

March 6, 1906 Herald     “Henry Oltendorf had a bee this week.  Many neighboring farmers helped haul material for his fine new house and barn to be built on the Dr. Miner farm.  He has let the contract to Louis Menke for $7000 to furnish material and build same complete.  Buildings cost money these days.”

June 22, 1906 Herald     “Louis Menke has drawn plans for a fine, new house, to cost over $3,000, to be built by Wm Wille at Mt Prospect for Conrad Bartels, as a present to his daughter and son-ill law, Wm. Hulke and famly, who will move there from Chicago.”

July 7, 1906 Herald     “Henry Oltendorf’s new barn, 36×86—16 with 8’ft. concrete basement and hip roof was raised Tuesday. Contractor Louis Menke with a large force of willing helpers had the frame up before dinner; then all hands took bold and boarded.”

February 22, 1907 Herald     “L. Wilkening had the former H.C. Bartels farm, barn fixed up by L. Menke.  A renter will soon take possession.”

Genesis of a Township (In 1910)    “The contract to build [Farmers Bank of Schaumburg] was given to Louis Menke for $7900 and the building was ready for business in October.”  [This bank was built on the NE corner of Schaumburg and Roselle Road next to the Fenz house which still stands today.]

October 4, 1912 Herald     “Louis Menke is busy with his force of men finishing houses.  Fenz and Oltendorf’s are nearly completed.”  [The Fenz house still stands across the street from the Turret house and is pictured here.  The Oltendorf house was further east on the same side of Schaumburg Road.]

December 4, 1914 Herald     “Quite a number from here attended the dedication of the new church in Bloomingdale built by Louis Menke.  The congregation can certainly be proud of the new edifice as it is a credit to the community.”  [This is the  St. Paul Evangelical Church on First Street.  The cornerstone was laid March 29, 1914.]

March 12, 1915 Herald     “Louis Menke is rebuilding Wm. Gieseke’s residence.”

February 9, 1917 Herald     “Henry W. Moehling has the material on the ground for a new barn 36×80-10 with a 8 ft. concrete and brick basement on the old Jones place one mile south of Arlington Heights.  Louis Menke and John Clausing are the builders.”

July 16, 1920 Herald     Louis Menke and carpenter crew are busy building a large Dairy barn in Schaumburg.

December 2, 1921 Herald     “The new school in Hanover township cost about $7,000.00 complete.  Louis Menke & Son had the contract for this building. Contract amounted to $4,650.00, balance was donated by district. The building was designed by Edwin Menke and the board of directors.  Size of building 37×39 ft.  Brick veneer construction.  Size of school room 24×37 ft. Well ‘lighted by windows, equal to one fifth of floor space. Has basement under the whole building. Hot air furnace and a good well in basement. It has a good ventilating system inspected and approved by
state inspector.”  [There were nine one-room schoolhouses in Hanover Township.  It is unknown which one this was.  The fact that it was brick makes it somewhat unique.]

On October 7, 1917 Louis and Lizzie Menke celebrated their daughter, Meta’s  wedding to Arthur Thiemann by holding the reception in the small barn that is still on the Turret House property today.  The Thiemann’s children recalled that their parents told them of the corn shocks and other fall adornments that made the building look special for the reception.

Three years later in 1920, news reached the newspaper that Mr. Menke and his family were selling their “fine home” to Henry Moehling from Arlington Heights and moving to 482 Chicago St. in Elgin “where his boys will have a better chance for employment and education.”  And, unfortunately, that’s about the time the mentions of any Menke area construction stopped in the newspaper.  Fortunately, he and his skills left the area a wealth of buildings.  We’re very lucky some of them still exist today.

The home was later sold in 1924 to John and Wilhelmina Wille.  Upon Mr. Wille’s death, the house was passed on to their daughter and her husband, Emil and Elsie Trost.   Subsequent owners were Frederick Reis and Martin Miller.   Later the house was purchased by the Lou Malnati’s chain.  The house then became the property of the village of Schaumburg in 2010 in a property swap with the pizza chain.  It now serves as offices for the village’s Health and Human Services department.

The photo of  Evangelical St. Paul Church in Bloomingdale is gratefully used with the consent of the Bloomingdale Historical Society. 

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

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One Response to “LOUIS MENKE: THE BUILDER OF EARLY SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP”

  1. steve thomas Says:

    Excellent report. I grew up just North of St. Peters church.

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