This was the Hammerstein farm and it was the beginning of the history of what one day would become the Hoffman Estates Boys Club. In this affluent suburb of Chicago, the Park District, Boys Club, and YMCA all had as their headquarters barns in the late 1970′s. Allan Binder was the Park Director at that time and Bob Williams the YMCA executive while I was the director of the boys club.
The Boys Club can be located in this picture nearest the dirt road in the upper right side. It was located right next to the then Chino Park but in this photograph no softball fields can be found. Our next door neighbor St Hubert’s Elementary School and the fire department behind us were yet to be constructed.
The Gieseke/Hammerstein farm-house and barn is one of the most historic buildings in Hoffman Estates. It can be found on a quiet residential street surrounded by small ranch homes that were built-in 1957 and 1958.
John and Caroline Gieseke were immigrant German farmers who bought their 165-acre farm from the U.S. Government in the mid 1850’s. Land sold for $1.50 an acre. An Indian trail went through the farm and Pottawatomie Indians would stop for a cold drink or sit and rest on the front porch.
The third generation of Giesekes, John and Edwin, sold the farm to Arthur and Dorothy Hammerstein in 1943. The Hammersteins added additional barns, new silos, and several smaller homes along with an additional 100 acres. They hired Architect Thomas McCaughey of Park Ridge who made major changes to the old farmhouse. When finished the newly renovated farmhouse had 5 bedrooms, seven bathrooms, servant quarters, a kitchen in the basement and a wine cellar.
Arthur was the uncle of Oscar Hammerstein II who was famous for his Broadway musicals and Dorothy was a silent movie star. Dorothy especially enjoyed the quite rural life. Their farm was known as “Cardoa Farm” but Arthur jokingly called it “Headacres” when the farm work got the best of him. They raised pure-blooded and registered Duroc Jersey hogs and Holstein dairy cattle.
When Arthur died in 1954, Dorothy sold the farm to F & S Construction for $150 an acre. Within a year Hoffman Estates was springing up from the corn fields. The farm-house became the field headquarters for F & S Construction. The largest of the barns became the first Community Center but on Noember. 11, 1959 a fire broke out and the barn burned to the ground. Another fire damaged part of the farmhouse.
Shortly after the fires Jack Hoffman deeded the property to the Hoffman Estates Home Owners Association. With incorporation in September of 1959, the farmhouse became our first village hall, police department and maintenance garage. Fire insurance money along with an additional $19,500 was used to remodel and repair the 100-year-old building. Certified Construction Company was awarded the bid in late September of 1960.
This photograph provides you with an even better vantage point of where the boys club was in conjunction to Chino Field. The dirt road did not exist when I came to Hoffman Estates in 1977. The club was razed shortly after I left the organization in 1979 to accept a new position with the Joplin, Missouri, Boys Club as their Executive Director. The club in Hoffman Estates deserved a better fate.