Building a Country Club and a "Village"
In the mid nineteen-twenties a new land deal began in Crete. It was the same year, 1925, that Lincoln Fields land deal had taken place. This time it was land purchased by a Chicago syndicate for a golf course and a village - Lincolnshire Estates. The new corporation was headed by Mr. Sam Homan (original name was Haimovitz) a developer, and Mr. Colen, his attorney the realtor of the deal was Cowing Brothers Real Estate, Edward J. Rippe, manager.
The land purchased was the farm land of Moncena Schoonmaker, M. J. Adams, James Muirhead, George Wilder, J. W. Miller, Henry Triebold, and Hugo Themer. The land amounted to about 800 acres. Other small parcels were included in the original land purchase, making the full acreage over 1,000 acres.
Its north boundary was to be Steger Road, to the east Crete Road, Exchange Street to the south, and it was bisected by the Milwaukee Railroad tracks. The entrance to Lincolnshire Estates was from Steger Road, from the State Street extension. A second entrance to Lincolnshire and its club was opened from Dixie Highway late 1926, today known as part of Richton Road.
The Chicago Heights Star dated June 22, 1926, stated that the old Schoonmaker farm residence would be the temporary club house, but another will be erected in the near future." And the June 29 Star stated, "A score of carpenters are now at work remodeling the old Schoonmaker place into a temporary clubhouse. Later a larger and finer clubhouse will be built, it is intended."
The Schoonmaker home, known as "Pine Terrace", was located on the north side of Exchange Street near Crete Road. The fourteen room, two story clubhouse still stands, but is now only a one and one half story house. Their main clubhouse or winter quarters remained at 4300 Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago.
Approximately 530 acres were designated for the club development. The ground was broken for the new clubhouse in November 1926 and dedicated as the "temple of health and good fellowship." Despite inclement weather there was a large crowd of members and prospective members present for the ground breaking ceremony
The new $200,000 clubhouse was to be completed by late summer of 1928 or early fall. The new building was to include spacious locker room quarters, lounge rooms, dining house, grill rooms and rest rooms.
The clubhouse, although only one third complete, was opened June 23, 1928.
The Chicago Heights Star June 22, 1928 reported, "The new building located in the heart of the large acreage owned by the club is situated on a high hill overlooking Deer Lake. The unit to be opened is being used for locker rooms for both men and women, and includes the temporary dining room and lounge. This portion of the clubhouse is only one-third of the budding planned. Construction will continue, it is announced, after the end of the summer golf season."
The Chicago Heights Star published July 9, 1929 said, "With the formal opening of the Lincolnshire clubhouse, one of the most impressive achievements of any Chicago Heights building firm was completed. The City Construction Company had charge of erecting the two units of the structure, valued at over a quarter of a million dollars.
"The first story of haydite block surrounded on all sides
by terraces, offers a pleasing sight to the visiting public. The
inner walls have rough wall texture with oak trim. The master
builder floor, a composition of various materials, is heavily
carpeted and attractively furnished.
"The second story is of frame structure with metal laths and beautiful stucco finish. A Hawthorn roof, insulated with Celotex and Sheetrock, covers the structure. The entire building is of English type, planned by Miss Laura D. Harding, of the American Park Builders.
"An open air dancing pavilion overlooks the lake at the south end of the building and furnishes a place for comfortable dancing. A pergola appears at the south end of the dance floor, which is 35 feet wide and 60 feet long.
"The complete structure is 230 feet in length and 105 feet in width, and is situated but a short distance from the lake. A comfortable lounge floor, on the first floor is 50 feet long and 30 feet wide, and affords abundant comfort to visitors.
Large Dining Room
"The inside dining room is 45 feet by 30 feet, while the dining porch is of the same dimensions. The kitchen, which is 48 feet long and 30 feet wide, includes a bakery, a butcher shop, and a refrigerator room. The cafeteria measures 25 feet in width and 48 feet in length. Two private dining rooms, both 19 feet long and 17 feet wide are added features. One is on the first floor and the other on the second.
"The second floor also contains offices and a writing room. The entrance is on a gently sloping terrace, while the entire building, is surrounded by porches. Terraces also overlook the lake. "Locker space in the building is sufficient for 2,000 lockers. The second floor includes the ladies shower and locker rooms, two lounge rooms, a three-room apartment occupied by the manager of the club, and several rooms for various employees. The upper porches, which extend for a distance of 70 feet on the east and west sides of the building, are each 50 feet wide.
"The roofing was done by the Midwest Roofing Company of Chicago Heights, and adds an attractive touch to the general structure. John Maier, another local contractor, did the bulk of the sheet metal work. G. B. Morrow took charge of painting the building. The Standard Lumber Company, also of Chicago Heights, furnished the lumber for the budding.
Have Own Water Supply
"A ten-inch well, which is 483 feet deep, is found on the outlying grounds of the club. Chromium plate plumbing fixtures were used in the buildings. Caddy houses and outer buildings have been constructed so as to complete the club.
"The entire grounds upon which the country club is situated covers a total of 1,236 acres. Work on the clubhouse extended over a period of two years before completion, but only six months of actual construction took place during this space of time. The contract was one of the largest of recent date for a Chicago Heights contractor."
Lincolnshire Country Club was not developed for men only, but was designed for the entire family's enjoyment
In January 1927 citizens of Crete voted to annex 2300 acres of land lying to the north and east of the village. This land annexation included all the land that was purchased for Lincolnshire Estates.
The clubhouse stood high on the hill overlooking the lake. The lake, known as Deer Lake, was created by damming Goose Creek and Deer Creek. This was done by erecting a dam on the north end of the lake south of Richton Road.
On Memorial Day 1927 at the formal opening of the Lincolnshire Country Club the naming of the dam took place. It was called the "Lindbergh" dam for aviator Charles Lindbergh who had just finished flying solo from New York to Paris.
Construction of the dam was started the latter part of April 1927. Within 60 days after closing the gates of the dam, Deer Lake, a spring fed lake, achieved its maximum size of one and one-fourth miles long, one-half mile wide and 14 feet deep in parts, with a pier extended from the shore. The artificial lake, which covered 16 acres and held 800,000 gallons of water, was constructed at a cost of $100,000 and stocked with more than 2,000,000 game fish by the Illinois Fisheries Commission.
Plans called for four eighteen hole golf courses to be built. Course No. 1, built east of the clubhouse, was opened August 1927. Course No. 2 was located west of the lake, east of State Street and south of Richton Road and opened May 1929. Course No. 3 was opened July 1929 which was located north of Richton Road, northwest of the clubhouse east of State Street and bisected by the Milwaukee Railroad, on the high ground overlooking the beautiful creek valley. It was designed by Tom Bendelow, built by the American Park Builders, and was said to be laid out in the most picturesque part of the development. American Park Builders had built other golf courses such as Medinah and Olympia Fields.
The construction of Course No. 4 was started in July 1929, but by the end of the year the Depression began and the Course, which was the southernmost course just north of the temporary clubhouse on Exchange Street, was never finished.
Lincolnshire felt the effects of the Depression. People were no longer building homes; some were unable to hold onto their homes, and lots were no longer selling. Much of the land went delinquent and the original owners who sold never received full pay for the land.
Although the first homes were being built in 1928, the headlines of the Chicago Heights Star on June 3, 1936 read, "Lincolnshire to Open a 'Village,' Dedication Ceremonies on July 4-Mark Launching of Project A New England Village,' Set in the heart of the Middle West, specifically on the grounds of the Lincolnshire Country Club will be dedicated next Saturday, July 4, it was announced yesterday by S. M. Homan, President of Lincolnshire, Inc."
The clubhouse and its four eighteen-hole golf courses were to be surrounded by homes on the wooded and rolling terrain.
Elaborate plans were drawn up for the village by American Park Builders in 1928. This company was known as architects and engineers of fine country clubs and parks in the country. The village was to be constructed as a New England village and it was to be called Lincolnshire.
The homes were to be of three types-Dutch Colonial, English and Spanish, and were to be built in units of ten, each being different in design. Home sites were small and narrow with 40 foot frontage and were 110-125 feet deep. They were to be from five to seven rooms and range in price from $7,000 to $8,500, according to the number of rooms. The homes were to be built along the edge of the fairways.
Early promotion for Lincolnshire was for building summer homes, but by 1930 that idea was abandoned and houses were built as year round homes.
According to an article in the Chicago Heights Star June posed of at prices ranging from $500 to $1,250. The first 200 lots sell for $500 each, the second 200 for $600, and the price increases until the final 200 will cost $1,250 each.
"Lots allowing ample room for a sizable bungalow for permanent residence are offered for sale at the present time for $500, and with each budding site purchased goes a life membership to the country club. Life members may either sell their holdings or build on it as they prefer, and are free from all expense for locker room and the Eke."
Besides the golf courses, other sports for its members were to
be offered. Plans included tennis courts, polo field, Olympic
swimming pools, children's playground, bridle path, and trapshooting
The children's playground was built at a cost of $10,000 south of the clubhouse. The tennis courts were located south of the clubhouse along Richton Road, and the croquet courts and archery courts were in the northeast part of Lincolnshire.
On March 10, 1929 club members dedicated the new trap pits, which were installed at the club for trapshooting, east of the clubhouse.
The swimming pool was completed and dedicated in 1936.lt was built at a cost of $19,133, financed through the sale of $500.00 bonds to 35 members. The pool with its attractive architecture had constantly changing water.
Lincolnshire had its own bridle path which was 10 miles long. Horses were boarded in the stable that belonged to Mr. Lenzioni the stable was sold in 1946 to Mert Ketchem. The stable was located on Richton Road west of State Street. At the stable were the riding horses and also ponies for the children.
Polo was inaugurated June 23, 1934. Sunday games were played throughout the summer using three polo fields and the 40 pony stable. The playing field was kept watered by means of a special pipeline from Deer Lake, a half mile away from the polo fields which were south of Richton Road.
The original plans called for the Illinois Central R.R. to run
a line from Matteson to the Lincolnshire Club. It was to run through
Indian Hills Country Club proceeding eastward to the Dixie highway
viaduct south of Steger and then southward to Lincolnshire and
on to Lincoln Fields. The station to accommodate the Lincolnshire
people was to be built on the club grounds. This was never achieved.
However, Lincolnshire did have bus service to and from the Illinois Central Railroad Station in Flossmoor and the Chicago & Eastern Illinois Station at Chicago Heights. The new mode of transportation began May 1934. The bus was also used for shopping and banking in Chicago Heights. This service was courtesy of the Lincolnshire Country Club, which owned the bus and used it only for Lincolnshire members, guests and employees. There were more than a dozen pickup stops in Lincolnshire, and a ten ride ticket cost 90 cents. Don and Ed Hennerberg and John Paul were among the drivers of the bus.
In 1941 the number of bus pickup stops in Lincolnshire was reduced. This was to help aid in wartime efforts by conserving gas and tires. It also reduced travel time to the 1. C. station by approximately five minutes. By 1942 the bus needed to be replaced, and the community voted to end the service and it was never resumed.
It Never Happened
The late twenties brought about what land developers called progress to Crete. Land was bought for development of Lincoln Fields, a racetrack, Lincolnshire Estates, a country club and a village of homes, and WLS, a radio sending station.
Things were looking up for our little town, and Crete was being advertised as the great "Golden Gate to Chicago." More land was sold and plans were laid. Unfortunately, two such plans never were fulfilled.
According to the Chicago Heights Star July 16, 1926, one such plan was for a hostelry, a 100 room building to be erected on Dixie Highway.
"A pretentious hotel of more than 100 rooms rivaling in architectural beauty many of the finest structures of its kind in the Middle West, to be constructed on the Dixie Highway at the entrance to the Lincolnshire Country Club north of Crete, according to an announcement made today by Ritter-Weishaar, brokers in the sale of the eight acres by Henry Jaenke to 1. Francis Purdy, Chicago lawyer and advertising councillor.
"The land purchased for the hotel site extends from the north line of the White filling station at the subway under the C. & E. 1. Railroad to Richton Road where, according to report, ' the railroad is soon to erect a passenger depot. Its northern boundary extends to the entrance to the Lincolnshire Club to the southern boundary on the west by the Dixie Highway and on the east by the proposed extension of Halsted Street."
"Constructed of reinforced concrete, tile roof and thoroughly
insulated, the building is to be entirely fireproof. It will be
equipped with automatic heat regulation among other things, and
will have an automatic ventilating system which will change the
air in the building every 30 minutes.
"Located on the top of a natural slope and surrounded by elaborate landscaping, the building will offer a pretentious appearance from the highway. Construction is to be started some time this year, according to the builders, and will be completed within a short time. The entrance to the Lincolnshire Country Club, which will be on Dixie Highway, is being erected. The one and one half acres to be used for this purpose were purchased from Henry Jaenke."
This new project, although it was to be called the Lincolnshire Hotel, was in no way associated with the owners of Lincolnshire Country Club.
The hotel was never built, nor was the passenger depot which was planned by the railroad.
Valley Brook Country Club
Lincolnshire Country Club and golf course had been built and dedicated in the late twenties. Yet another land purchase began for another country club and 18 hole golf course to be built in Crete. Golf was the in thing and it was no longer for the rich and famous. Golf courses were now being built for the enjoyment of the entire family. Valley Brook Country Club was to be just that. The land sold for the new club was the property of the Triebold family. Some of their land had already been sold for Lincolnshire Country Club.
According to the Chicago Heights Star July 23, 1930, "Work
will begin within a few days on the Valley Brook Country Club
for which the Triebold farm of 125 acres has been bought. It is
to be a private course with a membership of 400. The Triebolds
will occupy their home until next March."
In an undated article in the Crete Record was found: "The tract of land south of Exchange Street had been sold to a syndicate in Chicago. This tract was to be cut up for home sites of 1 1/2 to 3 acres each. The tract was beautifully wooded along both sides of the Safford Creek (Deer Creek). Approximately twenty-five home sites were spoken for in the territory and was to be very exclusive and highly restricted."
A brochure for Valley Brook gave the following description of
the new country club. "The grounds of the Valley Brook Country
Club, picturesque, rolling and wooded, with Deer Brook winding
through, are located on Exchange Street, the main east and west
thoroughfare of the beautiful Village of Crete, opposite the Lincolnshire
Country Club and one mile north of Lincoln Fields Race Course."
"Members of the club would have the right to build a home on a fifty foot lot in the residential colony of the club with restrictions that plans of the homes had to be first approved by the Board of Governors.
'A moderately priced Country Club with nominal dues, no assess-merits, and no encumbrances for a select and congenial group of people of the South and West sides of Chicago', is the idea of J. A. Colen, founder and developer of the Lincolnshire Country Club, the world's largest, moderate priced Country Club, the outstanding Country Club success in the United States."
Valley Brook Country Club was designed by Tom Bendelow , America's foremost Golf Architect ,and H. W. Lautner, landscape architect. Tom Bendelow was involved with many major country clubs in the United States and was considered an authority on golf course designing. Lautner was of the younger school of landscapers. His experience was established with clubs such as Glendale, Lincolnshire and Columbian Gardens Country Clubs. Both Tom Bendelow and H. W. Lautner had been associated with Lincolnshire Country Club.
The six page brochure of Valley Brook Country Club shows a sketch of the club and the signature of the designer was L. D. Harding, also the designer of Lincolnshire Country Club.
It is uncertain why two clubs would be built so close together, especially since Colen, Bendelow, Lautner and Harding were all involved with both clubs. The developer of Lincolnshire Estates, Sam Homan, was not listed in connection with Valley Brook, nor was Colen mentioned after a year or two following the original land development of Lincolnshire. Had their partnership dissolved?
The development of the golf course had been started, as the greens had been built and a cement dam was erected to flood the lowlands for watering the greens. But the Depression once again halted progress.
The dam still stands and is located about a mile cast of downtown Crete on the south side of Exchange Street west of Crete Road, as a monument to what was to be and never happened.
In the roaring mid 1920's a group of investors led by Sam Homan purchased 1,238 acres of farmland in Crete for an ambitious land development which included a country club, four golf courses, tennis courts, trap shooting Pits, swimming pool, 10 miles of bridle paths, Deer Lake and parcels for summer homes. They named it Lincolnshire to tie it to the racetrack, Lincoln Fields, being constructed south of Crete. The investors' corporation was Lincolnshire Enterprises. The developers of Lincolnshire offered several bonuses when a person purchased a life membership in the Club, including a small 40 foot lot east of the Club and south of Richton Road. Larger lots were also sold outright to people wishing to build year round homes.
However, the 1929 crash followed by the Depression in the 1930's
hit hard all developments and especially country clubs. During
the Depression people were just trying to keep their homes and
Home building languished in Lincolnshire as it did throughout the nation. Some people lost their lots because they could not afford to pay the minimal property taxes on vacant land.
During the lean times of the 1930's residents in the Lincolnshire area enjoyed the natural environment but few people were able to pay the dues that had been instituted at the Club. The construction of summer cottages ceased as the existing homeowners felt durable, year-round homes should be built.
In January 1940 the residents joined together to form the Lincolnshire Resident Home Owner's Association to deal with the problems that had arisen, such as the poor roads, police protection and the lack of proper inspection of the new homes being built. The organization was later renamed Lincolnshire Improvement Association.
The gravest problem was the poor condition of the roads because at the time they were built the village had no standards for new roads. The developers made the roads by dumping crushed stone on the ground without installing a proper base, ditches and culverts. None of the roads had any asphalt or cement, even State Street, which was the main road leading to the Club. The result was that during the spring thaws and heavy rains the stone simply disappeared into the clay soil. This necessitated large quantities of stone every year to keep mud holes from forming in Lincolnshire's 12 miles of roads. In the 1930s the roads worsened as the developers brought in fewer loads of stone.
By 1940 the roads were a disaster. The village had a very limited
budget to maintain roads due to low property taxes and restrictions
on using state fuel taxes on arterial roads. The Association decided
to hold a dance to raise money to pay for road repairs. They charged
$1.10 per person.
The Club, Sam Homan and the village also contributed some funds but the burden of obtaining stone and oil and contracting for the work rested with the Association. Residents performed some of the road labor to save money.
In 1943 the Association voted to collect $15 annually from each house for their roads but only a portion of the households paid their fee.
During World War 11 the Association had to appeal to the Office of Defense Transportation to obtain ration approval for sufficient oil for Lincolnshire's roads. Finally in 1944 a contract for blacktopping only State Street was approved by the State but work was delayed to 1945. Improvements on the other roads took another 15 years. Throughout the 1950s residents still had to pay into the fund for repair of their roads.
The roads also had no street signs. The Association bought materials and the Boy Scouts made and installed wooden signs.
Because of the lack of income, the clubhouse and golf course faced some deterioration. Through the loyalty and hard work of many of the club and association members, the necessary repair jobs were accomplished. The men scraped and painted the pool, remodeled the bar and tiled the grill bar floor. The Lincolnshire women maintained the tennis courts and made draperies for the Club. Members tended the bar at outside parties.
To prevent the Club from closing the swimming pool in 1943, the Association agreed to take over its operation and maintenance. They charged a fee to nonmembers to use the pool and hired a lifeguard and instructor.
Another problem was the condition of the bus that provided transportation to the IC station at 211th Street for those working in Chicago and to take the children back and forth to Crete's schools. The school district did not provide transportation for anyone who lived in the village, even when the school was not in walking distance.
To help pay for the costs, the developers started charging fares
to use the bus in 1942. In January 1943 the school district agreed
to transport children in Lincolnshire but charged $1.50 for each
child per month. The Club discontinued the bus service in November
1943, with fares only being paid by a small number of commuters.
By that time the Club was in receivership and trying to cut every
possible cost. Gas for vehicles was rationed due to World War
2 so the Association started car pools.
In 1943 the Association paid Woodman Tufts to install lights on the trees next to the lake for night skating in the winter. Skaters used the Tuft's basement to change into their skates and for warming and Al Fulsaa's boathouse for shelter. Mert Ketchem rode his horse across the lake to insure its hardness before skaters were allowed.
The Association also held Sunday community suppers and sponsored Boy and Girl Scout troops which met at the Scout House in Lincolnshire.
During World War 2 Association members helped women whose husbands were in the service by doing household chores. As part of the war effort they also conducted blood drives and air raid practices.
The Association's Building Committee started approving plans for new homes in 1940 because the developers had allowed some shoddy construction. They were diligent in their review and helpful in suggesting necessary changes. They also met with village officials to encourage Crete to develop its own building code and a zoning ordinance. At the committee's recommendation, $6,000 was set as the minimum price for homes in Lincolnshire, with no less than 1000 square feet of livable space and two bedrooms.
Telephone service was improved as a result of the Association.
In 1941 every call to people outside of Lincolnshire was a toll
call and everyone was on an 8 party line. They lobbied the phone
company and succeeded in getting new cables so they would not
be charged a toll for calls to the rest of Crete.
The lack of flasher lights at the Milwaukee Railroad tracks on Exchange, Richton and Steger Roads was a major concern due to serious accidents at the crossings. The Milwaukee tracks cut through Lincolnshire running north/south just west of State Street. After years of the Association contacting the railroad and politicians, warning lights were constructed only on Steger Road and a light was placed at the Exchange Street crossing. More than 25 years passed before the railroad installed any lighting at Richton Road. The last train on these tracks was on February 29, 1980. The railroad took out the tracks and only the old electric poles remain to show where the tracks once were a concern in the darkness of night.
The Association worked with the residents to cut down on the number of dogs and children running on the golf courses. Septic fields that drained on the courses were another problem. All houses in Lincolnshire were built with septic fields that sometimes overflowed into ditches, the courses, or the lake, causing a sewage odor on occasion. In July 1949 the village board banned further building in Lincolnshire due to the lack of adequate sewage facilities. After that, most homes were built on half-acre lots because Will County allowed septic fields with that mini-mum lot size.
New homes in Lincolnshire received water from community wells shared by a group of homes. Although most residents have connected to the village water system, several community wells still exist, along with individual wells.
For many years the post office delivered mail for Lincolnshire residents only to boxes at the clubhouse. After several years of writing to Washington, D.C. mailboxes were put in clusters at several locations in the area.
Financial Problems of the Developers' Syndicate
The developers of Lincolnshire Estates Corporation led by Sam
Homan had originally borrowed $175,000 to build the clubhouse
and the golf courses. Bonds were issued to pay for the costs.
When the syndicate failed to pay the interest due in June 1942, the bondholders filed a foreclosure action in court. By then the syndicate owners had decreased their debt to $98,000, but the bondholders held the mortgage on the property The members of the club and the homeowners decided to work with the bondholders who allowed the current management to continue running the Club and selling lots.
The syndicate cut costs by introducing associate memberships for the club, special rate books for green fees, and ending the bus for the residents.
During World War 2 part of Course 2 was combined with Course 3 east of Deer Lake and the remaining land from Course 2 was sold.
In 1949 negotiations were started for the purchase of the club between the Lincolnshire Club Board and Deer Lake Development Corporation, the new name of Sam Homan's corporation. A purchase fund was begun in 1951 for the down payment on the purchase price of $170,000.
On October 21, 1951 a resolution was passed for each member to be assessed $90 and the selling of $100 notes bearing 5% interest to the members. This plan collapsed in November and a new board headed by Harold T. V. Johnson worked out a plan under which each equity and associate member would contribute $125 plus tax toward the club purchase. The deadline for the down payment was July 4, 1952. In addition, each member had to pay $30 per, year until a total of $425 was paid. Each member who had paid the $425 would receive an equity certificate entitling the member to a proportion-ate share of ownership in the club. This plan was approved at a special meeting held at the club on June 17, 1952. Any member not making the payment by July 4, 1952 would no longer be a member of the club.
A concentrated drive was undertaken by the club directors to raise $85,000 to make the 50% down payment. Faced with losing the club, the members went all out to raise the funds and the goal was reached on July 4th. The second task of finding a bank to loan the other 50% through a mortgage was not as successful. Finally, Sam Homan was persuaded to take the mortgage.
Membership Owned Club
Under ownership by the members of the Club, a number of improvements were undertaken. More members from the rest of Crete and neighboring communities were added to the roster. By the mid 1970's equity membership had grown to 400.
In the 1980's the growing number of new public golf courses affected membership in Lincolnshire Country Club. In 1987 the Club converted the eastern 18-hole course to a public course called Lincoln Oaks.
Lincolnshire Club was again financially challenged by a decreasing membership in the mid 1990s. The members of the Club stepped forward to prevent it from being sold to an outsider. A new board took actions to encourage new members and greater use of the Club's dining facility by non-members and for banquets.
In the 1920's the developers of Lincolnshire constructed a dam
in Deer Creek to create Deer Lake. The lake was a selling point
to obtain Club Members and Home Buyers. A dock was built and the
lake was stocked with fish. Residents enjoyed swimming and fishing
and ice-skating lit the winter. The lake also was used to sprinkle
the golf courses. Tish Tufts remembers that sprinkler heads were
at each green with signs warning golfers, "Don't drink water
from the sprinklers." The fairways were transformed into
a lake in December 1942 from unseasonable rains. The dam was opened
several times during heavy rains to prevent flooding and damage.
When Woodman and Tish Tufts moved to Lincolnshire in 1942 their
home was at the lake's edge. The lake was lowered several feet
to pre-vent more flooding.
When carp became a problem in the lake, people from all over came with nets to catch them. The Association paid to have the rest taken out.
As the man-made lake started to fill in, it had to be dredged in the 1940's. Beverly King remembers seeing cars and slot machines brought up from the lake. By 1944 the dam needed repairs at a cost of $2500 for new gates and a leveling device to prevent flooding into adjacent fields.
The drainage districts to the north and west of Lincolnshire disapproved of the dam. They found that the dam had been built without a permit and tried to sue but were unable to find the correct person to file the suit against.
The gates on the dam were permanently opened in 1986 or 1987 allowing the lake to drain and return to its natural condition as a creek. Today the wetlands surrounding Deer Creek are the habitat for a wide variety of birds and animals
Lincolnshire has grown with attractive homes by year-round residents. Some original homes have doubled in size and new homes are still being built in the area. Lincolnshire became more integrated into the community of Crete through the efforts of both the Homeowner's Association and the Village of Crete. Due to the attractiveness of Lincolnshire, the new subdivisions of Swiss Valley (built on the Hawes Park property), Lincolnshire East and Lincolnshire Green were developed beginning in the 1970s, bringing hundreds of new families to Crete.
The Deer Lake Development Corporation was succeeded by Reed Ekal
Corporation which owned most of the unsold lots. Reed Ekal (Deer
Lake spelled backwards) faded to pay the property taxes on the
vacant lots and in 1985 Will County sued to gain possession of
the land and return it to the tax rolls. By 1989 the Village of
Crete and the Park District received about 200 acres of undeveloped
land as part of the lawsuit settlement. In 1993 the Village sold
some of its lots to people for new homes. The Village used the
funds from the sale of the lots to install new sewer and water
lines to the area. 1,
Some citizens have 'pushed for keeping part of the undeveloped area west of Crete Road and the area around the former Lake in their natural state. Deer, beaver, fox, four species of owls and a great variety of other birds inhabit the area's prairie, wetlands and hardwood forests. The wooded areas contain many trees over 100 years old. The conservationists believe preserving the area is vital to the survival of the plants and animals which live there and for future generations.
Lincolnshire Country Club celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2002. Since 1927 the Club has been an important part of the Crete community for golfers and hosting proms, class reunions, weddings, golf outings and civic and political gatherings. The scenic beauty of the Lincolnshire area with its beautiful wooded and wetland areas and attractive homes continues to be one of the main reasons for the charm of living in Crete.
In the early 1900's Moncena Schoonmaker, one of the farmers who sold his land to the Lincolnshire developers, reported that his wife's uncle, Russell Sage, a well-known philanthropist, remarked, "Well Schoonmaker, as farmland it isn't worth a nickel, but for scenery it's worth a fortune!" Today this is still true.