Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

One of the Citizen’s readers recently inquired about Shoe Factory Road. He reads the Historian’s Notebook column and asked if there was really a shoe factory on that road. He’s not the only person to ask about this. Others have wondered about the same thing. It’s an interesting story and the road has history up and down its length from Elgin to Hoffman Estates.

There certainly was a shoe factory on Shoe Factory Road. It was a large building built in 1891. It was owned by George Ludlow & Company and stood at the northeast corner of Shoe Factory Road (later renamed Congdon Ave.) and Dundee Roads. The factory employed 370 employees who made women’s shoes. Later the business was sold to Selz-Schwab & Company of Chicago. During its peak year of 1920, 300 employees manufactured 2,000 pair of shoes a day.

The business was again sold–not to shoe manufacturers, but to clothing manufacturers. Besides clothing, the building was used as the Tiny Tim indoor miniature golf and the State of Illinois Sign Shop before it closed in 1990. The building still stands and has been converted into apartment s & condos.

As Shoe Factory Road travels east through Hoffman Estates several stories about our history linger on with only memories of what was once located along the road.

The Charles Lindbergh one room schoolhouse was eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It’s unique flagstone design and concrete construction was built to never burn as the two previous schools dating back to the late 1840s had. It didn’t survive the efforts to save it and the Village of Hoffman Estates decided to tear it down in September of 2007. It was located on the south side of Shoe Factory Road near the intersection of Essex Drive. Only memories remain.

The Earl and Elizabeth Teets Farm was the site of one of the most gruesome unsolved murders in Cook County history. Their farm was on the north side of Shoe Factory Road just west of where the road dead ends into Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates. Earl and his wife Elizabeth, along with their son Gary and 4 guard dogs, were shot to death in their farm house. Their bodies were discovered on the night of Jan. 11, 1979. The murders have remained unsolved. Only memories remain.

A drive down Shoe Factory Road will bring you to the Poplar Creek Model Air Plane Flying Field, a fun place to watch the maneuvers of the planes as their owners put them through their loops and great flying skills.

Just east of Route 59 you’ll find the wonderful Great Egret Family Picnic area. The drive down Shoe Factory Road heading west takes you through the Arthur L. Janura Forest Preserves. There’s so much more to the Shoe Factory road than the answer to the question,” Was there really a shoe factory on Shoe Factory Road. “

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Historian

Photo credit:  Selz Shoe Factory from Postcards From The Past: A Brief History of Elgin, Illinois.


  1. Jon Guiney Says:

    I’ve often thought about the Teets murder and wish it could be solved. I worked at the Southland Liquor store on Hassell Road, along with my then-fiancé-now-wife and one of my best friends at the time, and that was a be unsettling night around that part of town. My gosh, it’s coming up in 40 years ago in January!

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