This blog posting has been expanded from its original appearance in January 2010.
Not only was Marshall Field & Co. a major anchor at Woodfield Mall but, once upon a time, they had a strong presence in Hoffman Estates as well.
In 1952 the grounds of the current Hilldale Golf Club was a farm that was owned by E.J. Bush who was an executive with Diamond T Motor Car Company. Under Mr. Bush’s ownership the farm was named Winding Lane Farm and was managed by the Glaser family. Mr. Bush had purchased the land in the 1930s for $60 an acre from a brother and sister by the name of Dammerman. He made improvements on the farm and built himself a summer house as well.
In 1952 he sold the 192-acre property to Marshall Field’s whose intent was to design America’s first field shooting range and name it Fieldale. It was planned and produced by Charles Hunter, head of Marshall Field’s outdoor department, who felt those who purchased firearms in the department needed a spot to use them.
After ten years of planning and with a budget of $100,000, Mr. Hunter oversaw the remodeling of a number of the buildings including a barn that became an office-showroom for gun purchases where, according to an article from Time, the prices ranged “from $75 to more than $2000.” Other items that were sold included “shooting gloves, alpaca-lined pants and red underwear.” Various buildings that included a shelter, a gunsmith’s shop, an outdoor apparel shop and a log lodge for relaxation and snacks were also scattered around the property.
According to the Time article, “two 40-ft. towers have been erected to sail out clay ducks for the hunter in a blind below. For the quail, pheasant and partridge hunter, the store has built a 1,000-ft. fairway lined with corn shocks and rail fences. As the hunter stalks along, an accompanying “triggerman” follows him, releasing fast-flying clay birds that simulate the flights of the different game birds. The price for such fun: about $3 for 25 targets.” No club fee was instituted. When opened the hours were 9:00 a.m. to sunset every day except Monday. Later, the farm was also closed on Tuesday.
Exhibitions were held at times and featured well known marksmen such as Ken and Blanche Beegle and Herb Parsons. In addition, the National Skeet tournament was held there in June 1954.
Initially 40 employees were hired to work the farm and, in March, 1953, Mr. Hunter resigned and was replaced by Frank L. Gilbert. The club lasted until February 1959 when it was sold to the Pamela Corp. of Franklin Park who renamed it Hilldale. (Chicago Tribune, March 6, 1959)
The Glasers, meanwhile, continued to farm the rest of the property during both the Marshall Field’s ownership and into the Pamela Corporation era. Multicon eventually bought the property and began construction of the Hilldale Golf Club in October 1970. It opened on June 17, 1972 as a 18-hole, par 71 course. (The Herald, June 16, 1972) Today it is owned by the Chicago Kosaido Corporation and is located at Huntington Blvd. and Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates.
View other photos of Fieldale on the Local History Digital Archive. Search under Fieldale Farm.