Our Homewood, IL offices are located conveniently on Kedzie Avenue between 183rd Street and Olive Road. Panio Law Offices’ attorneys are proud to serve all south suburb communities, including Flossmoor, Hazel Crest, Country Club Hills, Olympia Fields, Markham, Dolton, Chicago Heights, Tinley Park, Orland Park, Harvey, Glenwood and more.
History of Homewood:
New Englanders James and Sally Hart were the Homewood, Illinois’ first recorded settlers. They settled the limestone rich area in 1834. Other families soon followed: the Butterfields, the Campbells, the Clarks, and the Hoods. Just a few years later Dutch and German families started to move into the area also. The area early on was known as Hartford.
In 1853, the Illinois Central Railroad (IC) launched the Thornton Station in Hartford, naming it so as many of its passengers hailed from nearby Thornton. Great confusion about the two locations ensued as mail for both towns regularly became mixed up. In 1869, early settlers to the area petitioned the post office to have the area renamed Homewood, named for the woods that neighbored the settlement.
In the decades that followed, trains and a population explosion helped to transform the area. Country clubs brought trains to bring golfers into the area. The IC established the Calumet station for this purpose. Wealthy families began to move into the area establishing permanent or summer homes because of the ease of access and proximity to the city.
In 1904, the Standard School was built on Dixie Highway and Hickory for a cost of fourteen thousand dollars. The school was to replace the small two-room schoolhouse that had been established in 1880 or so, which had grown inadequate. The new school had four classrooms, two cloakrooms and a small office, along with an attic and basement. The school offer the community entertainment by way of its popular spelling bees, box socials and a play festival. Garden clubs were set up to teach many of the area’s children rudimentary farming as that was the chosen vocation for most of the children in the area.
The school grew in size and a new building was constructed in 1923. It was called Central School and had three more classrooms, a teacher’s room and assembly hall. Early in the 20th Century, Homewood became popular as a railroad depot as many IC workers and their families relocated to the area. Cars became prevalent in the affluent area and traffic grew considerably, so village officials installed the area’s first manually operated traffic signal. It was located at the corner of Ridge Road and Dixie Highway.
This time framed the period where Homewood transformed from a farming community to a south Chicago suburb. Families started frequenting area stores and the commerce and retail in the area began to grow. The town’s population grew from 700 to 1,593.
Washington Park Race Track opened in Homewood in 1926. It became home to a large number of thoroughbred horse racing events. Among them was the American Derby. (In February of 1977, the grandstand of Washington Park Race Track was destroyed by fire and the track was never reopened.)
Homewood’s elite suffered a great fall with the Stock Market Crash of 1929. Many who worked in factories in Harvey and Chicago Heights suffered the loss of their jobs. Many nearly lost their homes. The Homewood State Bank closed its doors in the spring 1932. Many residents with money invested in the bank lost all they had.
Trains soon increased access to the area and factories began to reopen. The city began to replace old buildings with new businesses. One such building was Homewood Theater. The city began to see the reopening as a resurgence for the area.
In 1948, the new Ridge School was founded just west of the Central School. The erection of Ridge School was followed by the construction of Willow School in 1953. In 1958, a junior high school was established and named after the area’s first settler, James Hart. Soon after, Westgate Shopping Center, Ridge-Mar Shopping Center, Northgate Shopping Center and Washington Square Plaza were constructed and the area became a magnet for Chicagoland shoppers. In 1981, the first Homewood Fine Art Fair was held in the village’s center on Ridge road. And in 1993, Homewood celebrated its centennial.