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 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.
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.
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.
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 90th anniversary in 2017. 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.