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

Hoffman Plaza


Changes are coming to our first shopping center. Hoffman Plaza, built in 1959, has darkened store front windows and an empty parking lot.

I received an e-mail from a reader of this column, asking what was happening to the Hoffman Plaza. He saw empty stores and knew that something was up. I’ve learned that there will be changes coming to the area, what exactly I can’t say. There’s still a lot not known about what changes will take place.


I do know that the Hoffman Plaza was our first shopping center. Parcels A, B & C were being constructed and there was no place to shop. It was with happy hearts that the residents learned that F & S Construction was planning on building the shopping area with an opening date of summer of 1959.

Hoffman Plaza

Shirley Turpin opened Turpin Fabrics & Drapery shop, the first small business in the Plaza. Jewel also opened our first grocery store, not to be confused with the newer store that will remain in the Plaza. The first store openings continued during that year and into 1960; Walgreen Agency Snyder Drugs, Ben Franklin, and Twinbrook Hardware. The first doctor’s offices and the first beauty shop also opened.

That first beauty shop belonged to Frank Vaccaro but his beauty shop would also serve as our first post office. After Roselle’s postmaster requested public bids for a substation in Hoffman Estates, Frank Vaccaro was awarded the contract and opened our first postal substation on Nov. 1, 1962. The east end of the plaza would become our first post office in 1964.

I also remember the first Yu’s Mandarin restaurant tucked into the corner of the north facing portion of the Plaza, the Hot Dog Place (Express) was one of my favorites also. A small ladies dress shop was on the north side too but I can’t remember the shop’s name perhaps it was the Sorority House. I know I loved there dresses.

With the addition of the new McDonalds and the newly built Wendy’s in Golf Center, the downtown area is always improving for the better. Everyone is especially happy with the new stop light that we’ve hoped for for a number of years allowing us a safer and more convenient way of shopping in our original downtown area.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian


  1. Dave Olson Says:

    Thanks for the memories of the plaza opening up in 1960. I hate to admit it all these many years later, but the Ben Franklin store was where I had my first (and, I think, last) shoplifting experience as a ten year old, pocketing some pieces of candy from the open bins they had there. I hope it was something good and not wax lips or the little candies on the white paper. I was egged on by a couple of evil friends or otherwise would never have done it. I was relieved I got away without getting arrested for it. Ben Franklin was my go-to place for baseball cards (I bought tons of them there) so that more than made up for my pilferage.

  2. Dan Says:

    I spoke with the HE Planning department and I guess the west wing of the Plaza will be torn down. Supposedly a larger store is going in but it wasn’t clear if the old Dania furniture and original Jewel space are coming down as well.

    It seems like the whole Plaza including the now shuttered part just got a new facade not that long ago. But of course I remember when there was a Highland Superstore in there so maybe I’m just losing track of time!

    It is a shame though that there is no effort to preserve or reuse what is the original shopping center in town and going on almost 60 years.
    After its gone, that might make the original part of Weathersfield Commons in Schaumburg (1962) the oldest remaining shopping center around.

  3. Jim Peters Says:

    I remember well Hoffman Plaza from 1967-1989. I was born and raised in Hoffman estates and have many wonderful memories going to the Jewel food store with my mom and sister during our Saturday shopping trips. Remember when they used to give away free toys, I mean cool toys, in boxes of new laundry soap in hopes of getting new buyers? I must have bugged my poor Mom for an hour to buy a soap she didn’t use to get the really cool race car included as a freebie. I can still picture it about 50 yrs later.
    Another time I remember trying to go out the automated doors in the newer Jewel store on the wrong side and got my head stuck in the closing door. Poor Mom almost had a heart attack as the fire department was called to get my head unstuck!
    My Mom, Bunny Peters also worked at the first Jewel store as a cashier during my early years in the late 60s. Mrs. Ruth Hess, one of our neighbors on Forest Park Lane also worked there. We used to get to bug Mom while she was working waiting for her to get done for the day.
    Years later I got my first job at the Hot Dog Place in 1975. I worked there for many years through high school and beyond. A wonderful opportunity to meet new people daily, get to know the regulars and to make life long friendships with fellow employees. Over the years I saw many stores close in the plaza and new ones take their place. From Giant Auto parts on the other side to the men’s clothing store on my side.
    I know progress and change are a part of life but it makes me sad to see it go!

  4. Donna Hartsburg Says:

    Dave, I remember your mother Bunny and also Ruth because I too worked in the Hoffma Plaza Jewel as a part time cashier in 1965 through graduation from Conant High School in 1967. (I am a member of the second graduating class from Conant which is going to have its 50 year class reunion next month.) I worked after school usually from 5:00 PM until closing at 9:00 PM. During those hours there was a front end part time cashier manager named Alice. The full time front cashier manager was Barbara Richards and I can only remember the assistant store manager’s name was “Big Ed” Nebl. That was my very first job and that Jewel is also where I met my husband of 47 years. My parents bought their first home from Jack Hoffman and his brother and moved our family to Hoffman Highlands from an apartment in Chicago in 1961. Jones Road was still a dirt road, and there was still a farm to the west of it. I could watch the farmer work his cornfields from our front window. I have lived in Schaumburg Township for 56 years now, so these articles really bring back many memories. I can remember a few early stores in Hoffman Estates that have not been mentioned. The first being Robert Hall clothing store that was on the corner of Golf Road and Roselle Road for many years. Also, Omega Sporting Goods owned by a man named Lou Bocce who was a big contributor and I believe one of the founders of the Hoffman Estates athletic programs run for youth baseball and football. Thanks for sharing.

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