Archive for the ‘Hoffman Estates’ Category


December 30, 2018

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

The land that F & S Construction purchased east of Roselle, south of Golf and north of Higgins became what has always been known as “Parcel A”. F & S Construction promptly set up their lumber yard and milling operation on Plum Grove Rd., south of Higgins Rd. Houses started going up, with the first ones ready for occupancy in December of 1955. Families even moved in on Christmas Day.

That winter was a tough one for the newcomers. Their stories tell of broken water pipes, streets that were impassable due to mud and gravel roads that were not due for paving until spring. Mailboxes were nailed to posts and boards set up along Golf Rd. Each home had a tank in the back yard for propane that the homeowners called a pig.

Parcel A had large ½ acre lots. This was one of the reasons that people were moving out from the city. This first section of Hoffman Estates never had curbs or sidewalks. There were culverts on either side of the roads to drain off the water from heavy rainfall. To this day it has remained the same.

A number of residents suffered from flooding, possibly due to the relocation of a branch of Salt Creek that cut through Parcel A. The creek had been moved from the center of Parcel A to a location close to the north side of Higgins Road. The heavy rains may have been seeking its original route through the middle of the new development. [Addendum: You can see the creek, in blue, in the map above, as it moves between Hawthorn and Bluebonnet. This is from a 1961 U.S. Topographical map.]

The homes that were built in Parcel A didn’t offer a garage. The only protection for the cars was a carport that left the autos open to the rain and snow. But many missed the extra space for storage that a garage would offer them.The majority of new homeowners began closing in their carports, although in 2018 there are still homes that retain the carports from 1955-56.

Moving into a new home in December was really an exercise in patience and perseverance. The majority of new families had children. Those children were looking forward to Santa and wondering how he was going to find their new home. Those parents were also wondering how they would finish their holiday shopping and still have time to unpack the boxes and boxes of household items that still sat in hidden corners of the new house.

Hanukkah began on Dec. 10th that year and shopping for Christmas and Hanukkah gifts would be difficult. Elgin, Roselle or Palatine were the closest towns for shopping & groceries. Somehow the gifts were purchased, the holiday cooking traditions continued as always but in a new kitchen, in a new home and the start of a new life in Hoffman Estates.

Happy Holidays!

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian


December 16, 2018

The box above is missing a picture of a snowman float that was created in Hoffman Estates in 1962. That year the State Street Council of Chicago decided to try something new with their famous Christmas parade. They opened it up to the suburbs, allowing local villages and cities to create a representative float to appear in the parade.

In fact, according to an article from the Hoffman Herald of November 1, 1962, “the Council wrote to the village requesting participation, and agree[d] to underwrite the cost of a float to the extent of $100.” Needless to say, even in 1962, this would not be enough to cover the expense so, once the Village gave approval, they also “agreed to further underwrite the cost of a float by an additional $150.”

They also requested that the Hoffman Estates Jaycees construct the float that would represent the village. So, with the help of an additional $150 from F & S Construction and $25 from Judge Muldowney, the Jaycees formed a special parade committee and got started.

Jim Boyer was named materials chairman and Carl Johnson was named construction chairman. They enlisted the assistance of fellow Jayceers Jerry Meyers, Fred Downing, Neal Galvin, Jim DeCardo, Dave Basch, Jim Lewis, Jim Sloan and Don Daly.

After throwing in the Jaycees’ donation of more than $425, they also contacted Al Hartman of the Roselle Lumber Company, who agreed to donate all of the lumber and exterior fibre glass. The Dickhaut Painting and Decorating Company of Elgin provided the painting and flocking, and “basic construction of the float was made by the lathing class, Washburn Trade School, Chicago.” [The Record, November 29, 1962]

Because a large enough site was required to create the float, H.C. Wilkening stepped in and donated a construction spot on his farm property. (You can see his farm in the upper right corner of the map above. It was located where the Dunbar Lakes subdivision is today, on the northwest corner of Schaumburg and Plum Grove Roads.) With all of the necessary materials, and manpower that consisted of more than 800 hours of volunteer help, the float came together in the shape of a 35-foot snowman.

The immense size of the structure required three more bits of special assistance: one, a hydraulic lift that was incorporated into the construction so that the snowman could be raised and lowered as it encountered the State Street “L” tracks and the bridges on the Congress Expressway; two, Don Sperling of Hoffman Estates provided the truck that was used to pull the float; and three, the village, state and Chicago police were required to act as escorts for the trip into the city.

And what a trip it was. The amount of time that it took to travel there and back, allowing for the bridges and the huge size of the float, was five hours. Five hours!

But, it was not in vain because, it won First Place in the suburban division! The cash prize was $1000 and the Jaycees and the village drove away (albeit, slowly) with a wonderful coup for the three-year-old village.

As Ed Pinger, village president, said at a huge victory celebration on November 25, “Today Hoffman Estates was put on the map. The entire village joins me in thanking all of the Jaycees for their tremendous effort.”

So, if you have a photo of this infamous snowman and would be happy to contribute it to the blog posting, I’d welcome the opportunity to add it. We’d all love to see what this masterpiece looked like!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

This blog posting was written with the assistance of The Record, November 29, 1962 and the Hoffman Herald, November 1 and 29, 1962.



November 25, 2018

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

I’ve started the first column on the history of Hoffman Estates to honor our village’s 60th anniversary of incorporation that occurred on September 23, 1959. I’ll try and tell our history each month during this 60th anniversary year.

This entire area was farm land. So many settlers came here because life in other countries was torn by war, famine and general unrest.  In the 1840s the government sent surveyors to map out the territory, describing the number of rivers, forest land, swamps and streams on each acre they surveyed.

Land was being sold for $1.25 an acre. The promise of good farm land drew the new settlers to this area. The old plat maps of Cook County from 1942 and 1954 show the townships that made up Cook County and the names of the landowners in each township.  As you look at the plat maps, of Schaumburg Township, you can’t help but notice the same family name on other farms in the area. Many times the first families to arrive wrote back to family & friends telling of the good farming conditions and encouraging them to come and start a new life in America.

The earliest settlers to this area came from the east coast.  A large number of Germans, many encouraged by friends and family,  also settled in Schaumburg Township. German became the predominant language of the area and others who did not speak German moved on to farm land to the west.

With the end of World War II came a demand for housing for the returning service men. F & S Construction had been building homes in Arizona. They wanted to create a community of homes for the families of the service men that would be well built and affordable. Looking for new areas to develop, F & S Construction found an area in Schaumburg Township that was very suitable for their next development. The area had the promise of being very successful with a tollway under construction, O’Hara Airport nearby and a willingness of the farmers to sell their farms, they had found an ideal location for their next project.

In 1954 F & S Construction purchased 160 acres of land east of Roselle Road between Golf and Higgins Roads.  An additional 600 acres were added with the purchase of the Hammerstein farm.

This was the beginning of F & S Construction’s plan for a new community that would become Hoffman Estates.

Pat Barch, Hoffman Estate Village Historian


November 11, 2018

This is an interior photo of the Sunderlage House in Hoffman Estates taken in the mid-1950s. It showcases the warm, cozy interior of this beloved farmhouse when it was a private residence. If you look closely, though, your eye is also drawn to what look to be murals painted on the walls on either side of the staircase.

This photo was donated to the library by Sandra Volid Bauer, the wife of Peter Volid. Mr. Volid owned the house when the photos were taken. He was not married to Sandra at the time, but he told her later about the murals on the wall.

According to Mr. Volid, these murals were commissioned by Lila Harrell who bought the farm from descendants of the Sunderlage family in the 1930s and owned it until 1952 when Mr. Volid purchased it from her. See the entry above from the 1949 Bartlett/Roselle Telephone Directory that shows her address and phone number.

Ms. Harrell called her home and its surrounding acres “Angelus Farm.” She also modernized the house by putting in electricity and plumbing.  One of her other touches was the murals that were painted on the walls.

Marilyn Lind of the Hoffman Estates Historical Sites Commission, that oversees the home, said that Ms. Harrell was a Chicago-based interior decorator who had an office on Michigan Avenue. It was in Italian Court that was built in 1926 and, according to Paul Gapp, the architecture critic for the Chicago Tribune, was a mixed location of businesses and apartments that “were tenanted by artists, designers and writers.” [Chicago Tribune, September 23, 1990]

Given her involvement in that field, she must have been fairly familiar with the arts world in Chicago. At some point Ms. Harrell hired a Chicago-area artist by the name of Malvin Albright to paint the walls according to Sandra Volid Bauer. It isn’t known if Ms. Harrell specifically instructed him to design murals for the walls or whether that was his idea.

What IS interesting is the artist. Malvin Albright was the twin brother of Ivan Albright, who has a special gallery for his works in the Art Institute of Chicago. Ivan was known for his unusual style that was most noticeable in the painting featured at the end of the 1945 movie, “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” You can see it below.

Malvin and Ivan grew up in Warrenville, IL where their father Adam Emory Albright, a painter himself, purchased an old Methodist church in 1924 to use as the Albright Gallery of Painting and Sculpture. While Adam was more of an impressionistic painter, his sons turned their sights to other styles.

Malvin began his art career as a sculptor but eventually switched to painting with watercolor and oils, signing his work with the name “Zsissly.” According to his obituary in the Chicago Tribune of September 16, 1983, Malvin’s paintings were a lighter contrast to his brother’s darker style. Still, in looking at Malvin’s painting below you can get a glimpse of how their painting techniques were somewhat similar.

Unfortunately, the mural that Malvin painted is not viewable today. In fact, Marilyn Lind said that when she first got a glimpse of the house back in the 1970s, the walls had already been painted over with a solid color. But, in scraping at it with her fingernail, she could tell that the paint that was used was quite thick and that the colors were pale blue, gray, pink and white–which was quite an interesting palette. She could also see the outline of nature scenery, houses and people walking. Today, wallpaper covers the staircase walls.

It seems there are always surprising connections to be found in Schaumburg Township. The area may have been rural for many years, but it was still close enough to Chicago that it was touched by some very interesting people!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

You can take a look at the Sunderlage House for yourself. The next time the home will be open is for the Teddy Bear Holiday Party on December 1 at 1 p.m. More details can be found here.

If you are interested in the Albrights, you might want to check out the Warrenville Historical Society.

[Photo credit of Italian Court to Chicago Tribune]



September 30, 2018


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

This is our anniversary month. On September 23 it will be our 59th year as the Village of Hoffman Estates. We’ll set off on our 60 anniversary year with fun activities beginning in January.

Last month I asked those who have lived here since the beginning of Hoffman Estates, 1955-1965 to contact us so we can honor you and save the wonderful stories you have to tell about the good old days. Any photos you may want to share would be wonderful to save as part of our history.

One of our early residents, Alice Selke, just celebrated her 100th birthday in July. She’s someone very special because she was married to our first fire chief, Carl Selke. As wonderful as Carl was as our fire chief, she had her own wonderful qualities. Alice’s job was to man the fire alarm calls. Early on, we had a volunteer fire department. Alice would send out the alarm to all the men and they’d jump into action immediately. She’s told the story about how her cat accidently set off the alarm by walking across the alarm button. She quickly had to send out a call saying that everything was OK , it was just the cat.

Because she was always home with her job of monitoring the alarm system, neighbors would frequently ask her if she could baby sit for them while they went grocery shopping. The moms knew she was always there. Some of the kids were very well behaved but she told of how some were wild children who never seemed to behave.

This is an example of the kind of stories we’re looking for. When I hear these stories I realize how different life was for those who first moved into their homes in Parcel A, B & C.

Please consider sharing some of those old photos that are in shoe boxes, envelopes and photo albums. It’s easy to scan them and return the originals to you. What people have shared with us has become the heart of those early years. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be celebrating our 60th anniversary in 2019.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian


September 2, 2018

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

I’ve written before about the first settlers to the area beginning with the farmers who came after the land was opened up after the Indians were removed following the Blackhawk Wars.  And I’ve also told the stories of the first pioneer families that purchased their homes from developer F & S Construction in 1955-56.  They were just the beginning of the rapid development of Hoffman Estates, with the construction of up to 4 houses a day.  We still call the differing parts of town by the original names of Parcel A, Parcel B, Parcel C, the Pie, the Highlands and Highlands West.

These early citizens who purchased homes were, as I’ve been told, friendly, neighborly, and determined to take hold of their new town by setting up a Homeowners Association in order to govern themselves.

At the drop of a hat, they’d step in and help a neighbor with whatever was needed.  Clubs were formed by the women to support one another in a new town that had neither shopping nor entertainment.   Babysitting clubs, the Women’s Club, the Gardening Club were some of what was established by women who were home with the kids and mostly without cars.   They were a community that didn’t want to sit around and do nothing.

These early residents were the people who debated, discussed and argued about what kind of community they wanted, not just for the next few years but for their future in Hoffman Estates. Would the future be better if they became a part of the Village of Schaumburg?  Maybe it would be better to split the town in two, letting those who wanted to incorporate go ahead with their plans and let the other half negotiate with Schaumburg in an effort to become a part of that village.

These sturdy, stubborn and argumentative folks would eventually vote for incorporation not once but 3 times.   Hoffman Estates became the Village of Hoffman Estates on September 23, 1959.

Elections were held and those who won elected offices  jumped into their new roles as mayor and trustees with both feet.  Learning as they went and finally governing themselves  as they always wanted to, having a say in all that would affect their lives for years to come.

Many have passed away and those who still reside in Hoffman Estates are in their late 80’s and early 90’s.  As we approach our 60th anniversary, please contact me with stories and photos you would like to share.  They are treasures to keep in our village history album.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian

The Village of Hoffman Estates will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2019. We want to honor those early pioneers who moved here from 1955 through 1965. If you’d like to be honored as an early resident of Hoffman Estates, please get in touch with Sue Lessen at the Village Hall 847-781-2606 or e-mail her at


September 1, 2018

WHAT: Surveying The Chicago Area In The Early Days

WHO: Tanya and Don Smith of Greeley, Howard, Norlin & Smith, an early surveying firm that was established in Chicago in 1854.

WHEN: Saturday, September 22, 2018 from 1 to 3 pm

WHERE: Large Meeting Room, Hoffman Estates Village Hall, 1900 Hassell Road, Hoffman Estates, IL

MORE DETAILS: They’ll talk about the history of surveying and how our land was divided. On display will be old surveying maps, their antique surveying equipment along with the modern instruments that are used today. They’ll tell the story of how they helped in a surveying dispute with Abraham Lincoln who was one of the early surveyors in Illinois, and other interesting stories of their work over the years.

Light refreshments will be served that will include our Hoffman Estates 59th birthday cake.

Questions? Contact Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Historian at 847-755-9630.


August 5, 2018

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

He was born in New York City and started his working career as a bricklayer and plasterer, working with his father to build the Victoria Theater and the Manhattan Opera House.  But in 1908 he began to move into the family musical business of producing operettas, musical productions and Broadway Theater. His father was theater impresario and composer Oscar Hammerstein I.  He had the theater and music in his blood.

His first production would be Naughty Marietta.  Arthur produced the operettas The Firefly (1912), Katinda (1915) and Rose-Marie (1924).  Rose-Marie was a production that he collaborated on with his nephew, Oscar Hammerstein II.

One of his most successful musicals was Wildflower (1923). With this success and his marriage to silent movie star Dorothy Dalton, Arthur built a beautiful home in 1924 in the Borough of Queens, New York. He called it Wildflower.  Built by architect Dwight James Baum, Arthur had only 6 short years to enjoy his beautiful Wildflower.  With the onset of the Depression and musical failures, Arthur had to sell the house in 1930 hoping to avoid bankruptcy.  Arthur’s sale of the house in 1930 did not help him; he declared bankruptcy in 1931 and retired from the theater. The Wildflower was designated a New York Landmark in 1982.  (Arthur and Dorothy are the couple on the left in the above photo. Her parents, John and Lillian Dalton, are to the right. The assumption is that this is their wedding day.)

Arthur produced almost 30 musicals in 40 years in show business.  He once again became well known when the song he wrote in the 1940s, Because of You, would become a hit when singer Tony Bennett recorded it in 1951 and it remained # 1 on the Top Ten for 10 weeks.

By this time Arthur Hammerstein and his wife Dorothy Dalton were living on their farm in what would soon be Hoffman Estates.  They purchased the 275 acre farm from John and Edwin Gieseke in 1943.

Could Arthur have written Because of You while living here on their farm?  Was it for Dorothy?  Giving up his New York theatrical life was not easy for him.  He called the farm Headacres, although it was officially called Cardoa Farm, and claimed that the farm was Dorothy’s project.  Dorothy disagreed and said that he loved his life as a farmer.

The quiet country life gave him time to tinker and invent small practical things. He had a work shop filled with tools, lathes, saws and drills. He received a patent for his moisture proof salt and pepper shakers that could be used by campers, the military and anyone who wanted to keep their salt dry.  Having had a career in construction and bricklaying, he enjoyed working on small projects around the farm.  How much time he spent at the farm is not known.  He loved Broadway and missed his friends there.

Upon Arthur’s death on Oct. 12, 1955, Dorothy sold the farm to F & S Construction and moved back to her family in New York.

Having two very famous people such as Dorothy Dalton and Arthur Hammerstein living in what would become our community center and first municipal complex adds to the historical stories we can tell about Hoffman Estates.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian

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


June 17, 2018

She was an actress in Chicago stock companies in 1910.  She moved to Hollywood to become a silent film star in 1914 and starred in over 50 silent films and co-starred with greats such as Rudolph Valentino and William S. Hart. She has a star on the Grauman Theater Hollywood Walk of Fame.  She was the Ingrid Bergman of her day.  In 1924, she married Arthur Hammerstein, the uncle of Oscar Hammerstein II and became Dorothy Dalton Hammerstein.  (The Hammersteins are on the left in the photo below. Her parents, John and Lillian Dalton are to the right. The assumption is that this is their wedding day.)

Dorothy retired from films when she married Arthur and never returned to her busy life in Hollywood.  She was destined to fulfill her lifelong desire to live on a farm.  That farm would be located in what would be the future Village of Hoffman Estates.

In 1943 she and Arthur purchased the Gieseke Farm, located just south of Bode Rd. and west of Roselle Rd, from John and Edwin Gieseke.  They called the farm Cardoa Farm.

Anton Remenih , reporter for the Chicago Daily Tribune,  interviewed Dorothy and Arthur in their unassumingly  simple yet cozy farm living room.  It was Aug., 11 1946, a busy time on the Hammerstein farm.  Dorothy was raising a herd of prized Holsteins and Duroc Jersey hogs.  “Dorothy was content.”  But Arthur said “It is I who named the place Headacres.  This is “Mrs. Hammerstein’s project” he said. He would have much preferred to be back working on Broadway.  Having been a successful writer of light opera on Broadway, he found it hard to be retired and living a quiet rural life.

Dorothy loved working with her beef and dairy herds.  Remenih reported that “She was also an accomplished equestrian and enjoyed riding her favorite mount Star.”  Dorothy always rode Star as she inspected the 275 acre farm.”

Dorothy enjoyed remodeling their 100 year old farm from a small house to a 5 bedroom, 7 bath home with servant quarters and surprisingly, a kitchen in the basement along with the wine cellar.  She brought along her lifetime collection of antiques as well as autographed pictures of Victor Herbert and others who starred with her during her silent movie career.

In addition to remodeling the farmhouse, Dorothy and Arthur added several barns and new silos to house and feed the cattle, hogs and horses.  Feed for the animals were grown on their 275 acres.  It was a beautiful and well maintained farm that would soon be sold to F & S Construction upon the death of Arthur on October 12, 1955.  It had been just 12 short years that Dorothy had lived her dream of being a farmer.   She moved back to New York to be with family and friends until her death in April of 1972 at the age of 78.

The farm that Dorothy loved so would become our most historic piece of property–our first village hall, police department and public works department.  It is now the Children’s Advocacy Center on Illinois Blvd. in Parcel C.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian

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


April 7, 2018

What:  Hoffman Estates Historic Sites Bus Tour.  The free, guided tour will visit a number of significant sites in Hoffman Estates.

When:  Sunday, May 6, 2018.  Tours will be offered at 1:00 and 3:00.

Where:  Tours will leave from the Sunderlage House at 1775 Vista Lane, Hoffman Estates.

Who:  Hoffman Estates Historical Sites Commission

Details:  Reservations are required.  Call Sue at 847-781-2606 before Monday, April 23, to reserve your seat.