Archive for the ‘Utilities’ Category


July 10, 2016

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

The old telephone book from 1956-57 has a history of its own. It has only 91 pages, the left side page was advertising and the right side had the names, addresses and phone numbers. Pages 64 to 91 were advertising. Not anything like the larger fatter books that followed with the growth of our suburban population.

As you flip through the pages you notice notations in the margins and names that are underlined or perhaps marked with an X. The phonebook was donated to the village by the Davey family. The markings were for special friends or neighbors or members of the organizations they belonged to. I started looking at the book page by page not wanting to miss any interesting notes that may have been added to the book.

On page 3 was a list of the important phone numbers to have at hand in an emergency, Fire, Police, Ambulance & Oxygen and a blank line for your Physician’s phone number. The schools were listed on this page also, “New Parcel “B” School” that hadn’t been named yet in time for the printing of the phonebook. It would be named Fairview School. The other schools were Twinbrook School & Schaumburg School. No High Schools were listed. We didn’t have Conant High School until 1964.

Page 5 gave the list of officers and district representatives of the Hoffman Estates Home Owners Association along with a history of its founding and accomplishments. The homes were divided into 15 districts. This group brought order and organization to our new town of Hoffman Estates.

The Woman’s Club information was on page 7. “A new organization dedicated to the interests of women, has been organized in this community.” This sentence was followed by the plans for the future of this new group.

Only three religious groups were listed on page 7 and 9, Countryside Universalist Fellowship meeting in a school in Roselle, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church meeting in Twinbrook School and the Twinbrook Hebrew Center meeting in the parcel B school as yet unnamed (it would be Fairview School).

The advertisements in the book tell a story of their own. Many men and women did business from their homes such as electrician’s, carpenters, beauticians and insurance agents. The local drug stores, Rexall and Walgreens were in Roselle. Grocers, such as Pik-Wik Food Store, Harve’s Food Mart, and French’s Super Market were also in Roselle. The two dairies that delivered milk in Hoffman Estates were Ludwigs Milk Company in Elgin and Hedlin’s Richer Milk in Chicago. The one restaurant and bar that was located in town at Roselle & Higgins was the Rainbow Inn. Their ad promised mixed drinks, Schlitz on tap, Sam’s Pizza and Italian dinners & sandwiches. The McArthur Bros. were the proprietors.

There were no area codes, just 4 numbers. The Allen family’s phone number was 3383. How easy was that to remember unlike our 12 digit numbers of today? Only the businesses had numbers beginning with Twinbrook 4. Lawrence 9 was a Roselle phone number and Flanders 8 was a Palatine number. The phone book had all the original addresses before they were changed in the early 70s.

It was fun to look into the past.

Pat Barch, Hoffman Estates Village Historian


February 6, 2011

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the December 2010 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

What would you do if you didn’t have your telephone?  It seems as if we are constantly connected to our family and friends through our cell phones.  How often do you see people, young and old alike, talking on their phones?  I feel that half the people I see on the road or in the stores are talking on their cell phones.  

When F & S Construction began building homes back in 1955, the fast pace of construction was difficult for the telephone company to keep up with.  With their own construction yards on site, F & S could put up a home in just a few days.  Cell phones would have come in handy back then but of course we hadn’t invented them yet. 

The early Hoffman Estates residents who moved into their homes in the spring of 1956 had phones installed with 16 people on a party line.  For those who are too young to know what a party line is, it’s like having one cell phone shared by 16 people.  Imagine having to wait your turn to use the phone.  If one person talked too long you had to politely ask them to “get off the phone, I need to make a call”.  Everyone worked together to make sure no one got angry with long winded talkers.  The 16 party line didn’t last more than a few months.  It changed to a more convenient 8 party line. 

Illinois Bell Telephone had to come up with a way to supply phone service to the homes that seemed to spring up over night.  Hoffman Estates became the home to the first trailer-mounted telephone exchange.  Illinois Bell developed the portable equipment at their garage in Lisle, Illinois.  The van type trailer could handle a phone system for 800 homes.  Illinois Bell planned for a permanent exchange building for the summer of 1957.  The portable phone equipment could be used in other locations with rapid growth or in case of disasters or fire in the exchange building.  The first phone exchange would be Twinbrook 4. 

The early phone subscribers could dial directly to Roselle and Bartlett.  Out-of-town calls would be made by operators in Arlington Heights.  We’ve had many changes to the phone service.  Party lines became a thing of the past.  Many of our residents have never used one.   We went from letters and numbers to all numbers and we kept adding more numbers to dial when cell phones and portable devices became so popular.  The round dial on a phone is also long gone.  Touch Tone was to replace that. 

Now we can tell our phone who we want to call, what we want it to take a picture of and who we want it to send it to.   Our home phone is called our land line; our other phones are called our cells.  Those land lines are also rapidly disappearing and many of us rely on our cells.  Don’t forget to keep it charged and enjoy the freedom it gives us.   We’ve come such a long way from those party lines.  

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian