Lake in the Hills celebrates 60 years of growth, change
By Denise Moran For The Courier-News November 21, 2012 9:10PM
"You don't see this very often - the chief of police getting a ticket. But he's not the only one - everyone pictured is getting tickets. For Lake in the Hills' Silver (25th) Jubilee celebration dinner dance on Nov 19, that is. Shown getting their tickets are (standing lt to rt): Superintendent of Public Works and Maintenance Chuck Ross; Silver Jubilee committee member Gerry Pischke; Trustee Pam Hopp; Police Chief Irv Floress; Trustee Rich Hulet; President John McPhee; Clerk Sandy Goulding; committee chairperson Ellen White and committee member Ellie McPhee. Seated are Trustees Russ Nockels and John Wieg and Building Inspector Howard Johnson...."
Updated: December 24, 2012 7:03AM
LAKE IN THE HILLS — A lot of things can change in 60 years.
In 1952, the average price of a new home was $9,050, while the average price of a new automobile was $1,700. It was easier to fill up your car when gasoline was only 20 cents per gallon.
Over the past 60 years, the village of Lake in the Hills has grown from a farm town into a busy suburb. On Thursday, the village will commemorate its 60th anniversary.
There will be a weeklong photo display in the village hall lobby, 600 Harvest Gate, beginning on Monday.
The village will host an open house beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday at village hall. Attendees will be treated to cake, coffee and a PowerPoint presentation along with additional photographs.
The Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce also is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The chamber currently serves a combined population of 60,000 residents and 1,600 businesses.
“In 60 years, Lake in the Hills has certainly grown from a getaway environment to a large community,” said Bob Spooner of the Lake in the Hills Historical Society.
The area of Lake in the Hills that inspired its name was created when the glaciers retreated and left big moraines in their wake.
“We refer to the area east of Randall Road as the original Lake in the Hills,” said Spooner.
Walter La Buy was a Cook County circuit court judge who later became a federal district court judge. In 1925, he bought farm property from the Labahn family. The site was along a creek running from Crystal Lake to the Fox River.
La Buy and his friends had an earthen dam constructed that created Woods Lake. La Buy also had five stucco houses built for family members.
The judge owned 473 acres on both sides of Woods Creek. In 1946, the Lake in the Hills Development Corporation purchased the land from La Buy along with an additional 300 acres. They opened up the area for public sale in May 1947.
Sales to vets
The original intention was to provide affordable homes for veterans of World War II. Lots were a minimum of 60 by 140 feet and ranged in price from $500 to $3,500.
Lake in the Hills was incorporated on Nov. 29, 1952.
Spooner said that the four original owners of the Lake in the Hills Development Corporation were Oscar Copel, Raymond Platt, J.H. Silver and Grover Sprafka.
There have been five village halls over the years. The first village hall was originally the development corporation’s office. It was owned by Platt, the corporation’s president. It has been said that when Platt received a traffic ticket from village Police Chief Irv Floress, he told the village to find another village hall.
In 1998, the historical society saved the Labahn-Hain farmhouse that was built around 1870. Spooner said Robert Hain used the house as a weekend getaway for 40 years. The house is now owned by the village. It can be rented for parties, meetings and other events. A preschool uses the facility Monday through Friday.
Around 1965, Frank and Catherine Jakubowski, formerly of Chicago, purchased land along Woods Lake in Lake in the Hills. They built the first big house on the lake in 1967 along Hilltop Drive, according to their daughter, Charlene Lyford.
“During the 1960s, it was all country out here,” she said. “There were minks, muskrats, raccoons and lots of birds. Ducks once wandered into their family room.”
Catherine was a founding member of the Lake in the Hills property homeowners association. She was also a founding member and president of St. Margaret Mary Parish’s Forever Young Seniors in Algonquin and the Lake in the Hills Seniors.
When Charlene married her husband, Richard, they bought a house in Lake in the Hills along Willow Road where they raised their daughter, Eva. They lived there from 1985 to 2004.
Eva once swam Woods Lake from one side to the other. The stable owner at Larson Farms on Pyott Road allowed Eva and other area children to ride their horses if they did farm chores.
Charlene remembers snowstorms when cars could not make it up the hills in the neighborhood. She also recalled the time around 1993 when the little creek flooded.
“Water came halfway up my mother’s property,” Charlene said. “They were afraid the dam would break. At one point, we were advised to leave. Luckily, the dam did not break.”
A few years after Frank died, Catherine moved to Houston with her son, Bernard. Catherine died last year at the age of 100. She was buried alongside her husband and son, Dennis, at St. John’s Cemetery in Fox River Grove.
Richard and Charlene now live in Mount Prospect and enjoy working as docents at the Field Museum in Chicago. Eva lives with her husband, Richard Burton, and her sons, Elliot and Oliver, in Indiana.