A LITTLE GIRL’S PERSPECTIVE OF HOFFMAN ESTATES

On the cover of this homemade scrapbook, created in 1965, a young Diane Levy is standing in front of a sign alerting drivers that they have just driven into the city limits of Hoffman Estates.

Diane’s father, Charles Levy, was proud of the young town where they lived. He wanted her to realize that it was being built from the ground up and was something special. So, in the summer of 1965, he and his daughter drove around the area, taking photos of various Hoffman Estates landmarks.

If we take a closer look at the photo above, we can see that Diane is standing near the two-lane Higgins Road, looking east towards the Hoffman Lanes bowling alley that opened in 1961. The first Jewel of the area is in the middle background and the Pure Oil gas station is on the far right in the small, white building.

Hoffman Estates began in 1954 when Sam and Jack Hoffman bought their first farm and started development in “Parcel A” just east of Roselle Road. Three years later, in 1957, Diane’s parents, Charles and Ruth, moved into Parcel C on Westview Street. The caption in the scrapbook says, “This is my house.” If you look closely, you can see Diane’s bicycle sitting on the sidewalk. Notice how few trees there are!

We aren’t often treated to a photo that depicts the back yard of a house but, clearly, Diane and her father thought it was an important angle to capture. This is where the neighbors and relatives gathered to socialize. The caption says, “A visit from the neighbors.”

The patio allowed for a collection of lawn furniture and was shaded by the house to some degree. Notice that none of the windows are double hung–and that they are all open. Central air had not yet been installed in these early Hoffman homes!

Unlike a number of young families of Hoffman Estates, the Levy family was a two-car family. Mr. Levy drove his car to the Roselle train station and, from there, jumped on the train that took him into Chicago where he worked. The Volkswagen in the carport was the first of a few models that her father owned. As Diane said, “It was his car.”

Her mother drove the Rambler station wagon that made transporting friends and groceries much easier. (Maybe some of you readers can identify the exact year of these models?)

Diane’s parents were part of the congregation that formed Beth Tikvah Congregation on Hillcrest Boulevard. Diane noted that services were first begun in Twinbrook School. (Virtually all of the religious denominations who established presences in Schaumburg Township used the various schools to hold services in their early days.)

Services later moved to the Arlington Park Jockey Club Chapel for a time and, finally, into the Beth Tikvah temple when it opened in 1963. Her caption reads, “I go to Sunday School at our temple—Beth Tikvah.”

Because Diane lived in Parcel C, she attended Lakeview School in the same subdivision. Lakeview opened in 1959–the year Hoffman Estates was incorporated. The caption states, “This is my school, Lakeview” and the photo indicates that it is clearly before the school was added onto.

Diane noted in our conversation that her mother, Ruth Levy, served as librarian at the school from 1965 to 1978.

In addition to the school in her neighborhood, we also find the Community Pool that was on Grand Canyon Boulevard.

As the caption states, this is “Our Village Hall and Police Station.” This building on Illinois Boulevard was originally the Gieseke farmhouse and later, the residence of Arthur and Dorothy (Dalton) Hammerstein. It served as the Hoffman Estates Village Hall from 1959 to 1972. Today it is used by the Children’s Advocacy Center.

The entrance of Village Hall is to the left and the entrance to the Police Station is to the right. Note the telephone booth outside of the police department. And, you have to love the round Illinois Bell sign.

The caption of this photo reads, “Again!” It is a more encompassing, distant shot of the Village Hall.

Also in the neighborhood was the “Fire Station.” This was Hoffman Estates Fire Station #1 on Flagstaff Lane. It is still in use today. Note the electric poles off to the right.

Diane and her father even took a few shots of some of the crucial businesses in young Hoffman Estates. This photo looks east across Roselle Road. The tall water tower is in the center with the shorter, squatter water tank sitting below it. Robert Hall Clothes is the building to the left. The caption below the photo says, “The water tower, first thing I see when returning home.”

And, lastly, we see Hoffman Plaza and the all important grocery store that served the area. The caption says, “This is part of our Shopping Center.” The photo was clearly taken after Osco joined Jewel in the Hoffman Plaza space in 1964. You can tell because the fonts of the store signs are different.

We can thank Diane’s father, Charles Levy, for this 1965 tour of Hoffman Estates. He had the foresight to realize these images of the young village would some day be of importance in tracking our history.

The apple, though, did not fall far from the tree. We can also thank Diane for understanding what she had in her possession and allowing her history to be shared  with all of us. Much gratitude to Diane!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

9 Responses to “A LITTLE GIRL’S PERSPECTIVE OF HOFFMAN ESTATES”

  1. Fred Luft Says:

    Thanks Jane for sharing these wonderful photos from the Levy family.

  2. Marty Oliff Says:

    Thank you Levy Family and Jane. Adding a bit more detail to the Beth Tikvah story, both Hebrew and Sunday Schools for the children were held at the Ira Rupley Elementry School in Elk Grove. We rode a bus on Tue. and Thur. that drove all over the village making stops in every parcel. My father served as the Building and Grounds Chairman for the synagogue as we lived several blocks from the the new building and he could make regular visits to the site to check on progress. Somewhere there are photos of my sister and I running around in the building under construction.

  3. EARL MAURER Says:

    I think that the “clock” near the phone booth is actually a Bell Telephone sign for the phone booth. I worked there from 1967 til 1972 when we moved to Gannon Drive.

    • Daniel B. Sedory Says:

      Hey Earl, I’m sure the clock was installed by the telephone company because of the “bell” you see on its face! I’d really like to see the original picture to confirm, BUT if you look really close, you can see some spots where the ‘hour numbers’ for a clock would be around the edges of its circle! So I’m pretty sure it’s a “Bell Telephone Clock”.

      • Daniel B. Sedory Says:

        Easy to be fooled by small B&W picture: Having looked for and found a number of pictures of these phone booths, I have to conclude with Earl Maurer there is NO clock there! In larger color photos of Bell Telephone’s booths, it’s easy to see they almost always had a circular logo sign (many would also light-up at night); the spots I saw were simply part of the logo.

  4. Daniel B. Sedory Says:

    Brought back some memories for me… I lived in the same area as Diane; went to Lakeview for a short time. I lived there from OCT of 1960 until the Navy took me to California in 1972 and Dad moved the family there that year! (My web site has some photos from H.E. in my Dad’s autobigoraphy; which I began editing in 2013 after he died.)

  5. Nora Lutzow Says:

    I grew up in Hoffman Estates, the Highlands subdivision. Thanks for the pictures, I spent many years at the pool, riding my bike across Golf & Higgins Rd. to get there. Great memories. . . . .

  6. Tony Ragona Says:

    Anybody have picture of Pleasant st Hoffman Estates in 50s and 60s

    • jrozek Says:

      Hi Tony,

      The only two photos that the library has of Pleasant are taken from the perspective of the library on Library Lane. One of the photos gives a fairly decent look at some of the houses closest to the library that are between Library Lane and Schaumburg Road. You can see it in this blog post that I did a while back on Pleasant Street. Unfortunately, we do not have any photos of the area between Library Lane and Thacker. I’d love to see any that are out there!

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library
      jrozek@stdl.org

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