Building a Country Club and a Village
In the mid 1920's, a new land deal began in Crete. It was 1925, the same year 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 and 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. The entrance to Lincolnshire Estates was from Steger Road, from the State Street extension. A second entrance to Lincolnshire was opened from Dixie Highway in late 1926. Today it is known as Richton Road.
The new $200,000 clubhouse, although only 1/3 complete, was opened on June 23,1928. The new building was to include spacious locker room quarters, lounge rooms, a dining house, grill rooms and rest rooms. The Chicago Heights Star on 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 plan. Construction will continue, it is announced, at the end of the summer golf season."
The Chicago Heights Star published on July 9, 1929, "With the formal opening of the Lincolnshire clubhouse, one of the most impressive achievements of any Chicago Heights building firm was complete."
The City Construction Company was in 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 textures 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 was of English type, planned by 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."
The clubhouse stood high on the hill overlooking the lake. Deer Lake, as it was known, was created by damming both 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 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. Within 60 days after closing the gates of the dam, Deer Lake, which was 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 extending 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 million game fish by the Illinois Fisheries Commission.
Plans called for four 18-hole golf courses to be built. Course No. 1, built to the east of the clubhouse, was opened in August of 1927. Course No. 2 was located west of the lake and opened in May of 1929. Course No. 3 was opened in July of 1929 and was located north of Richton Road. 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 previously built other golf courses, such as Medinah and Olympia Fields. The construction of Course No. 4 was started in July of 1929 but by the end of the year, the Depression began and the Course, which was to be the southernmost course, was never finished.
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 public golf courses affected the membership of Lincolnshire Country Club. In 1987, the Club converted the eastern course to a public course called Lincoln Oaks.
Lincolnshire Club was again financially challenged by a decreasing membership in the mid 1990's. The members of the Club stepped forward to prevent it from being sold to an outside party. A new board of directors took actions to advertise membership and greater use of the club's dining facility by non-members and banquets.
Lincolnshire has grown with attractive homes surrounding the property. Some original homes have doubled in size and new homes are still being built today. 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, 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 failed 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 for new homes. The Village used the funds from the sale to install new sewer and water lines to the area.
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 several trees that are over 100 years old. The conservationists believe preserving the area is vital to the survival of the plants and animals which live there now and for future generations.
Lincolnshire Country Club celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2017. Since 1927, the club has been an important part of the Crete community for golfers while hosting proms, class reunions, weddings, golf outings and political gatherings. The scenic beauty of the Lincolnshire area with its beautiful woods and wetland areas, along with attractive homes, continues to be one of the main reasons for the charm of living in Crete.