Archive for the ‘Developments – Schaumburg’ Category


November 5, 2017

When 999 Plaza Drive was built in Schaumburg in 1977–following its sister buildings that were built in 1974–the entire development was known as Woodfield Office Plaza.  The buildings were part of the 325-acre Woodfield Park which was a commercial project being developed by J. Emil Anderson & Son, Inc. of Des Plaines.

Today it is National Plaza and some changes have been made to the 1111 Plaza Drive tower which is the building closest to Golf Road.  According to the Village of Schaumburg’s October 9, 2017 e-newsletter, “several upgrades were made to modernize the exterior including an all-new custom truss “super structure” and a new “floating cornice’ which raised the overall building height and changed its proportions.”

In the following photos you can see parts of all of the buildings.  999 is at the back of the photo and 1000 is to the right.

This building at 830 N. Meacham Road was in the process of being torn down when I took this photo.  The south façade was all that remained.  Finished in 1981, this 2 story office building was nestled in a slight valley and surrounded by mature trees.  Some of the tenants who were in the building over the years were Gooitech, Associated Milk Producers and Healthcare Financial Resources, Inc.

This photo from Google street view shows the building when it was most recently the International Training/Skin Beauty Academy.  The site is currently empty.

A Modernist style building was built in 1972 on Meacham Road and housed the American Savings Association.  They opened for business on September 29 on the west side of Meacham Road and remained the sole owner until Weber Grill bought the property.

The building was demolished to make way for the restaurant that opened in 2005.  

And then there’s Zurich-American Insurance Group who hit town in 1980 and took up residence in this building which is at 231 N. Martingale Road.   This was their first of three locations in Schaumburg.  You can even see their name and logo on the sign out front.  (The photo is from the 1984 NSACI Community Profile and is used courtesy of Profile Publications, Inc. of Crystal Lake.)

They then purchased Plaza Towers I in 1988 that is located on Plaza Drive and borders Meacham Road.  The building is 20 stories and was completed in 1987.  In addition to the purchase, Zurich then commissioned the building’s developer, Otis Co., of Northbrook to build a second, identical tower that would also include a second 5-level, 960-car parking deck and a 3-story atrium connecting the two buildings.

And here they remained until 2016 when they moved into this incredible building that was constructed on a portion of the Motorola campus.  The property borders the Jane Addams Tollway and is truly a spectacular sight–particularly at night.  This photo, courtesy of Goettsch Partners who designed the award winning building, shows the three offset bars that make up the sustainable building which earned a LEED Platinum certification.

Change will continue in Schaumburg as building and business styles continue to evolve.  Some buildings we will miss and others may be an improvement.  Getting a visual glimpse of where we began and where we’ve gone over the years is always a nice reminder of how important our local history is.

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library


August 28, 2016

Last fall the Schaumburg Township Historical Society received a phone call from the Arnold family about a collection of photos they took in the early 1970s.  The pictures of early Schaumburg had sat in a drawer for the past forty years and they were hoping to pass them on to someone who might be interested.  The Historical Society gladly accepted the photos and then kindly donated them to the library to add to our Local History Collection.

The story of these photos begins in 1971 when the Arnold family moved to Schaumburg from southern California.  They were surprised at the amount of open space in Schaumburg Township still occupied by farm fields and undeveloped acreage.  Mrs. Arnold said, “We were amazed at all the open field but knew that wouldn’t last long.  I decided to take pictures of the ‘before’ of Schaumburg.”  She then began to drive the roads of Schaumburg, taking photos of various buildings and intersections.

One of the areas that Mrs. Arnold photographed was of Meacham, Golf and Higgins Road.  Below are a few of those photos.


Meacham Road between Golf and Higgins—looking east towards the Woodfield area.

The year is 1973.  Woodfield Mall, in the background, opened two years ago in 1971 along with the water tower that was necessary for the mall’s development.  The distinctive orange and yellow globe is sitting by itself with the skeleton of one of the first multi-story office buildings near it.  Two cranes loom over the structure and appear to dwarf the trees to their left.  Notice that the road is two lanes and has suffered through the winter.


Looking southwest on Meacham with the Bar Harbor Condominiums in the background.

The first condos of the area were begun in 1971 and were originally designed as four ten-story buildings, later scaled down to five seven and eight-story buildings and eventually opened in 1972 as two five-story buildings.  They were developed by Elmer Gleich.


Looking northeast at the corner of Meacham and Higgins.

The photographer is on Meacham Road, looking through the crossing at Higgins Road.  The intersection has clearly been widened in anticipation of both Woodfield Mall and the development that is to come.  There is traffic but it is certainly not overwhelming the intersection.  Also, note the overhead power lines that are no longer in existence.  Another skeletal office building is under development in the background and is the first of three office buildings that will be Woodfield Park Office Plaza.


Looking south at Meacham Road between Golf & Higgins Road.

This a rather bleak photo that exemplifies how much Schaumburg grew in the future.  The roads are empty and in need of repair.  Utility poles line the road.  A few trees dot the horizon and the area seems to already have been set aside for commercial and business development.


Meacham Road between Golf and Higgins Road.

Woodfield Mall can be seen in the distance–with nothing around it.  The brown brick of the J C Penney wing is to the left with the white brick of center court and the rest of the mall to the right.


Meacham Road looking north between Golf and Higgins.

The American Savings Association building shown above opened on September 29, 1972 on the west side of Meacham Road.  According to local architect Jeff Whyte, it is a nice example of the 1970s modernism style.   It remained American Savings until Weber Grill bought the property.  The building was demolished to make way for the restaurant that opened in 2005.   The tan buildings in the background are that of the Woodfield Commons shopping center.  Turn Style was one of their first anchors.


Meacham Road looking northeast between Golf and Higgins.

This is the first of the three Woodfield Park Office Plaza buildings.  The owner and developer of the 385,000 square-foot complex was J. Emil Anderson & Son, Inc. of Des Plaines, IL.  The three identical buildings that make up the plaza are “pre-cast concrete structures sheathed in dark reflective glass.”   [Commercial Renovation: How to Acquire, Renovate, and Remarket Existing Properties by Matthew Kiell and John Casazza]  The buildings were later renamed National Plaza at Woodfield.  Below is a later photo of one of the completed buildings.

Plaza Drive

Take a look at this photo from the collection of the University of Illinois at Chicago.  It is a view of the first Plaza/Zurich Tower going up in 1985.  You can see one of the completed Woodfield Park Office Plaza buildings as well as the American Savings Association edifice in the background.


Looking north on Meacham Road between Willow and Schaumburg Roads.

Again, the emptiness of the surroundings is very evident.  It certainly clarifies why the Arnolds were so intrigued with the huge swaths of vacant fields separating Woodfield Mall and the residential areas of Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg to the west.

We know what the “after” of the greater Woodfield area looks like but, thanks to the Arnolds, we now have a good idea of what the “before” looks like too!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library








June 26, 2016

The Walter and Maybelle Ellis family moved to Schaumburg Township in 1955, just before the boom started.  They, along with their daughters Jean (Mathew Helsper) and Betty (Melvin Helsper) bought property on the southwest corner of Schaumburg and Plum Grove Road from Palmer and Marge Carlson.  The daughters had married two Helsper brothers and the families moved to the corner with the intent of living close together.   Prior to building their homes, it was necessary to get approval from Cook County to have it dubbed the Helsper-Ellis Subdivision.  Once the homes were built, the families quickly became involved with the new village of Schaumburg.

These photos are from the collection of Mathew Helsper who was Chairman of the Schaumburg Zoning Board and a trustee on the Village Board.    They are a great overview–in more ways than one–of how the village evolved.



The photo above shows the layout of the relatively new Weathersfield subdivision taking place.  We are looking south from the intersection of Schaumburg and Springinsguth Road.  The first homes are to the west (or right) of the intersection along Schaumburg Road.  This is the “W” section where all of the streets start with that letter.  The model homes were on Schaumburg Road, next to the intersection.  Notice how the homes are spread out and have larger lawns in this section.

The big box on the southeast side of the intersection is the first Jewel grocery store in Schaumburg.  Directly in front of the store is the Pure Oil gas station.  To the left of that is Fire Station 1.  Both of these buildings are gone but the Jewel building is still a portion of the Weathersfield Commons shopping center even though Jewel itself has moved further west on Schaumburg Road.

The house that is sheltered in trees on the north side of Schaumburg Road, was originally built by Mr. Ode D. Jennings, owner of The Barn property.  Sometime before 1938, Mr. Jennings built the house for his cousin Everett, who served as his attorney.  Miss Irma Fischer who was a secretary in Everett Fischer’s law firm also lived in the house.  This house was later moved down Springinsguth Road to where it still stands today.

There was another, smaller home on the property where Mr. Therman, Ode Jennings’ chauffeur lived.  According to D. Nelson who grew up in the area, this property was eventually sold in the early 1950s to Eve Fasse after Everett Jennings and Miss Fischer passed away.

The Barn property is in the middle of the photo, behind and to the left of the Jewel in a wooded glen.  Bock Park is to the left of The Barn.  Houses are already built along Standish Lane as it runs in a straight line from Schaumburg Road to Bock Park.

Looking at this aerial view, it is possible to see how Weathersfield was built in 20 plus phases.  In fact, you can make out the start of  Weathersfield  Way stretching towards the east.  As land was purchased, new phases were planned and added to the existing development.  Of course, prices went up too!



The view of this photo is looking southwest at the Weathersfield subdivision from the area near Schaumburg High School.  According to a reader of the blog, the timing is 1965-66 because Weathersfield Unit 5 appears to be completed.   Everything from the photo above is also in this photo.

Schaumburg Road is the straight road running through the right side of the photo with Springinsguth Road being the other straight road running perpendicular to it through the subdivision.

Springinsguth Road hits Wise Road, another straight road running east to west in the photo.

Laid out neatly in a grid are parts of the Hanover Highlands subdivision, which can be seen in the upper middle of the photo.

Irving Park Road runs at a curving angle through the middle of the photo.  You can see the unincorporated Spring South subdivision between Wise and Irving Park.  Also, notice the big pond on the left side of the photo.  It is now encompassed by the Ruth McIntyre Conservation Area.

Lake Street is also in the upper portion of the photo, running parallel to Irving Park Road.  And, of course, Barrington Road bisects both of those roads through the entire upper portion.  It clearly ends at Lake Street.The view of this photo is looking due north from Irving Park Road coming in at the angle to its intersection with Wise Road, just east of Barrington Road.



The Milwaukee Road rail line is on the bottom of the photo.  Bisecting it is Rodenburg Road.  Where it hits Irving Park Road, you can see St. John Lutheran Church on the SE corner of the intersection.

Due west of Rodenburg is Long Avenue.

On the far left of the photo, just beyond the intersection of Irving Park and Wise is Hanover Highlands.

Between Irving Park and Wise is the Spring South subdivision.

North of Wise is the Weathersfield subdivision with the Nathan Hale School property on Wise looking like it’s being prepped for construction.  Hale opened in 1969 so we can probably date this photo around 1967 or 1968.

In the upper right portion of the photo is the very wooded area of Sarah’s Grove.  Quite a dense patch of timber, isn’t it?  Timbercrest subdivision is being developed to the south of the trees.

The various parcels of Hoffman Estates are to the north of Sarah’s Grove as are the Highlands in Hoffman Estates.

Note the other two wooded areas.  The portion to the upper left is the Walnut Grove portion of Hoffman Estates between Higgins and the Tollway.

The portion in the upper center is Highland Grove in Hoffman Estates, north of the Tollway.  It is now the Paul Douglas Forest Preserve.



The view of this photo is looking northeast towards the Weathersfield subdivision in the center.  Springinsguth runs through the subdivision with the “W” section nicely built out on the west (left) side of the road.  Clearly, development is very much happening on various sides.

The Hanover Highlands subdivision is also under construction in the southern part of the photo.

Sarah’s Grove and Timbercrest are visible in the upper central portion of the photo with development just beginning.

The Parcels of Hoffman Estates as well as the Highlands are in the top left of the photo.

Looking at these photos, it’s clear how Schaumburg Township was developed in much of a jigsaw puzzle approach.  Putting a piece here and then a piece there depended on when parcels became available from the farmers themselves or from the developers who had purchased the farms as an investment as the area begin to explode.  People like Mr. Helsper, who served on the Zoning Board, Village Board and other commissions, definitely had their work cut out for them!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

*Many thanks to Tom Helsper, Matt Helsper’s son for passing on these photos.  What a great resource!
**These photos were used with the permission of  UTC Aerospace Systems.  



June 5, 2015



This marvelous little ad was found by an original resident of the Timbercrest subdivision in Schaumburg. A friend saw the value in it and passed it on to me for posterity’s sake.  And what a neat little find it is.

The coupon was obviously a promotional item celebrating the great Timbercrest/Woods garage sale that has been a yearly occurrence since 1970.  In the first years, the sale was held in May.   In a May 17, 1972 issue of the Daily Herald, it was mentioned that around 30 out of 365 homes joined the event in 1971.  A week later in the May 23, 1972 issue of the Daily Herald, it was reported that around 40 homes had items for sale that year.  Today, according to Rich Gerber, the organizer, there are between 100 and 160 homes that participate and the sale is now held the first week of June.

For many years, the sale was held only on Saturday and Sunday.   In 2009, organizers added Friday to the mix and it’s been that way ever since.  As a result, around 5000 people annually weave their way through the streets looking for new treasures.

Resident Carol Johnson ran the sale for nearly 30 years and when she stepped down in 2003, the annual event nearly ended.  Jerry Thompson stepped in and took her place through 2006.  Since 2007 the huge sale has been coordinated by Rich Gerber, another resident.  His website provides information for this year’s sale.  You can get to it HERE.

The Timbercrest and The Woods subdivisions are reachable on Schaumburg Road, west of Town Square at Branchwood and Hilltop Drive.  They are also reachable on Roselle Road, south of the Town Square Condominiums, at Beech Drive.

And the Pizza Amore angle?  I was told that judging by the writing on the back of the ad, the coupon must have been used in 1985 or 1986.  Checking into an online perpetual calendar, I was able to determine that the dates June 9 and 10 were a Saturday and Sunday in 1984–which fits perfectly for Pizza Amore’s  run in the original Town Square Shopping Center.  They were in that location from 1983 to 1986.  As the contributor said, “My friends and I ate many slices of pizza at Pizza Amore in the 80s!”

Maybe you bought or sold treasures at the Timbercrest Garage Sale?  Or took advantage of that coupon?  If so, pass on the details.  Everyone loves to hear about a great garage sale find!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarain
Schaumburg Township District Library


April 10, 2011


Most of us recognize Future World as a part of Epcot Center in Disney World, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to a futuristic development that was actually drawn up for Schaumburg Township in 1968.   The plan was incorporated under the Schaumburg Planet Corp. and was the vision of its president, Lee N. Romano.  A local architect and developer, Mr. Romano, approached the Village of Schaumburg with a development called Outer Planets.

The plan was scheduled to include the world’s tallest office building, a 65-story motor inn, 4000 apartments in various buildings and a 7-floor department store.  Approximately 20,000 to 25,000 people would work there and the apartment units would house 8000 to 9000 residents.  Moving sidewalks and horizontal escalators would carry people within “this exciting city of the future.”   One of the unique aspects of this plan was the fact that it would be built on top of an underground platform that consisted of levels for parking to accommodate 40,000 cars, utilities, transit systems and other service facilities!

It was to be developed to the tune of $150 million on a 238-acre parcel on the southwest corner of Higgins Road and Route 53.  “I feel Schaumburg will be the hub of the future metropolis,” Mr. Romano stated at his meeting with the Zoning Board on July 10, 1968.   (Daily Herald, 7/12/1968)  At the time this land was not part of the village of Schaumburg and annexation would have to occur before any development started.  In addition, a 13-acre lake would be dug along the southwestern boundary between Schaumburg and Higgins Road for recreational and water retention purposes.  Buried underneath the lake would be the total energy vaults of the concept.

There were issues that needed to be resolved before annexation was approved.   Nearby Lexington Fields residents were not happy about the nearness of the project and the disturbances it would bring as well as the future performance of their wells.  They also requested that the plan include no supermarkets or discount stores.  The village was also concerned with the future development of the highways nearby and how the project would be configured around them.  This, of course, tied in with the village’s concern with the traffic this development would generate.

Once the village and Lexington Fields residents were assured, Mr. Romano successfully obtained zoning for the project in 1968 after Mayor Atcher stated, “No large city in the world has ever had a proposal of this magnitude, to say nothing of a suburb…This isn’t the normal type of development, but I’ve always contended that Schaumburg isn’t the normal type of suburb.  The Northeast corner of Schaumburg will be a core area to a four-township area.  This isn’t the kind of thing that’s proposed daily, weekly or every hundred years.”  (Daily Herald, 9/15/1968)

Development was supposed to begin with Phase 1 in 1969 with the construction of the 7-story apartment building, underground parking and the commercial area.  The other phases would be built over a period of 10 years.  His plan was upset, however, when the state needed 20 of his first 86 acres to connect Interstate 90 and Route 53.   Those acres were eventually sold for $500,000 but caused the project to languish for a few years.  In fact, the project was removed from Schaumburg’s development plans in 1971 after no development activity occurred.

He approached the village again in 1973 with another plan that added additional 66-acre and 74-acre parcels to the development and, again, zoning rights were granted.  By this time the optimistic plan called for “a space needle, 30 buildings ranging from 22 to 70 stories, an 80-story hotel, a 126-story office and residential building and a ‘people mover.”  (Daily Herald, 3/25/1976)  The people mover would have been necessary too.  The development was to house 70, 000 and employ another 30,000!

By 1975, however, it was apparent Mr. Romano was in financial difficulty and did not have the resources to begin construction.  The zoning approval had lapsed once again for lack of any construction and Mr. Romano began the process of selling the land.  Outer Planets would have been an ambitious plan with powerful impact for the Village of Schaumburg.  Just think how the landscape would be today with a space needle alá Seattle visible for miles…

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library