THE FIRST TOWN SQUARE SHOPPING CENTER

A year before the largest mall in the world drew its first customers, another shopping center in Schaumburg opened for business.  It was located at the intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads and it was called Town Square.Town Square 3

For over a century, this intersection had been the shopping hub of Schaumburg Township.  The bank, hardware store, gas station, saloons, small grocery store, implement dealer, blacksmiths and Lutheran church and school had provided most of the services and sustenance the farmers needed to conduct their lives.

With an ever growing, urban population, it became increasingly obvious that additional shopping and office space was needed near the growing Weathersfield, Timbercrest and F & S homes that were sprouting up every day.

George Shapiro of Morwell Builders who were the developers of Timbercrest, purchased 27 acres on the southwest corner of the intersection and proceeded to erect the first phase that opened in early 1970.  It was noted by Mayor Robert Atcher in his annual report that appeared in the January 21, 1970 The Herald that “The Heritage Square portion of the Town Square Center is well under way.”  The look was meant to be “a step into the Early American atmosphere…  Throughout the center the heritage design will be followed.”  (The Herald, February 24, 1970)  And, in fact, the Olde Schaumburg Feasibility Study published in 1981 states that the buildings were “designed with what might be termed a ‘rustic’ appearance, an ‘old town’ image with a western flavor.” 

When the center opened, two other phases were planned as well as “a large lake and probably a clock tower.”  (The Herald, February 24, 1970)  One of the phases was to consist solely of medical buildings and a second phase was indeed built in 1975.  (Daily Herald, June 23, 1980)  They also intended to have a 10,000 square foot steak house and parking for 2200 cars!Town Square 1

Town Square eventually grew into a large L with the long arm bordering the Town Square Apartments (now Condominiums) to the south and the short arm bordering Sarah’s Grove Townhomes to the west.  Per the Olde Schaumburg Feasibility Study, the long arm housed “twenty-four individual commercial and retail establishments as well as a separate cluster of professional offices” which was the short arm.

In the middle of the L was a small pond, children’s zoo and sitting area.  According to Cliff Skarr who owned the Town Square Pharmacy and eventually became president of the Olde Schaumburg Center Commission, the zoo area was called the Pet Park and was fenced in by the first owners of the development.  He said the Park was designed by Don Eggelston and had ducks, geese, goats and a peacock as part of the menagerie.  He also mentioned that the Jaycees built the gazebo in the center while tree plantings were done by other local groups.

Town Square 2The shopping center was eventually bought from Arthur Frank in 1980 by Imperial Realty.  According to the Daily Herald article of June 23, 1980, Frank had purchased the center in 1977–ostensibly from Shapiro and Associates.  Imperial was caretaker of Town Square until the village of Schaumburg absorbed the property as part of a tax increment finance (TIF) district and purchased the center for redevelopment in 1995.   The only building that remains from the days of the first Town Square is the Trickster Gallery which was built in 1976 as Lake Cook Farm Supply.

Town Square is now anchored by the venerable Schaumburg Township District Library and includes a number of commercial enterprises.  It remains an important cornerstone of the township just as it did for the farmers of the 1850s and the early suburbanites of the 1970s.  Next week look for a list of businesses that operated over the years.  Maybe you can help us add to the list!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


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6 Responses to “THE FIRST TOWN SQUARE SHOPPING CENTER”

  1. Cliff Skarr Says:

    I was amazed to find this wonderfully written article on the history of the Town Square Shopping Center. It brought back many memories of my time spent there. Thanks again for the ride down memory lane.

    Cliff Skarr
    St. Augustine, FL

    • jrozek Says:

      Hello Cliff,

      I’m thrilled you found this article because I sure couldn’t have done it without your input. I saved the notes from the conversation we had about 10 years ago and was able to use many of the details. If you have any photos or pamphlets or brochures from those Town Square days, I would love to add them to the library’s Local History Digital Archive. If you are interested, I can be reached at jrozek@stdl.org or 847-923-3331.

      Look forward to hearing from you,

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library

    • Norm Says:

      Great to hear from you, Cliff! I remember the Pharmacy well!!!

  2. Fred Luft Says:

    I worked for Cliff Skarr at Town Square Pharmacy during my Jr. & Sr years of High School (1970 & 1971). It was a wonderful learning experience. Cliff was an excellent person and a great boss.

    • Cliff Skarr Says:

      Hi Fred,
      I was surprised and gratified to see your comments regarding your years at the pharmacy. I too, have fond memories of you and your mom and dad.
      I hope all is well with you and your family. It was a pleasure knowing all of my pharmacy friends in Schaumburg.
      I am now retired and living in St. Augustine, FL. No more snow and plenty of sunshine!
      Cliff

      • Fred Luft Says:

        Glad to hear that you are away from the snow and ice. If you want you can contact me at my email. fredluft@yahoo.com I can update you on a couple of people you knew from the Town Square days.

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