Fox River Grove, Illinois

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Fox River Grove
Castle Vianden
Castle Vianden
The Great Town
Location of Fox River Grove in McHenry County and Lake County, Illinois.
Location of Fox River Grove in McHenry County and Lake County, Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Location of Illinois in the United States
Coordinates: 42°11′44″N 88°13′0″W / 42.19556°N 88.21667°W / 42.19556; -88.21667Coordinates: 42°11′44″N 88°13′0″W / 42.19556°N 88.21667°W / 42.19556; -88.21667
CountryUnited States
CountyMcHenry, Lake
 • TypeVillage
 • Total1.73 sq mi (4.49 km2)
 • Land1.73 sq mi (4.49 km2)
 • Water0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)
 • Total4,854
 • Estimate 
 • Density2,686.27/sq mi (1,037.15/km2)
Time zoneUTC-6 (CST)
 • Summer (DST)UTC-5 (CDT)
ZIP Code(s)
Area code(s)847
FIPS code17-27533
Wikimedia CommonsFox River Grove, Illinois

Fox River Grove is a village in Algonquin Township, McHenry County and Cuba Township, Lake County, Illinois, United States. The population was 4,854 at the 2010 census.[3]


Pioneers built homesteads in the Fox River Valley between 1830 and 1860. They were originally attracted to the area that would become Fox River Grove for its scenery and abundance of water.[4]

Ojibwe woman tapping for sugar maple syrup

The Ojibwe people continued to winter in the region into the 1860s. The women traded beadwork and purses with local settlers while the men trapped muskrat and mink selling the pelts in nearby Barrington, Illinois. The men also made fence posts for local farmers. When spring came they traveled north to their summer lands in Wisconsin.

In 1850, Frank Opatrny purchased 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land on the southern shore of the Fox River. The area gained a reputation with city dwellers as a vacation spot. Chicagoans were transported by livery bus from the Illinois & Wisconsin Railroad station in neighboring Cary, Illinois. In 1899 Eman Opatrny bought the land from his father Frank Opatrny. Eman decided to transform the family homestead into a picnic area, and the Fox River Picnic Grove was born.

In 1902, a luxury hotel known as the Castle Pavilion and Resort Hotel was built. The building featured windows displayed during Chicago's 1893 Columbian Exposition. The Resort Hotel contained the area's first player piano, as well as a dance floor. Opatrny built numerous cottages near the shore of the Fox River, boat docks were installed, a picnic area with shelters was set up, and several trees were planted. He also built a railroad spur track that lead directly into the park. Recreational activities in the Picnic Grove included a shooting gallery, dance platform, bowling alley, boathouse, photo gallery, rowboat rental, horse track, steam-powered excursion boat and baseball diamonds. During the 1910s, motion pictures were shown in the Castle Pavilion.

Many of the buildings in the Picnic Grove were destroyed by fire in 1918, but The Picnic Grove remained open through the 1920s and 1930s. The spur track was removed and with most of the attractions that visitors enjoyed in the 1900s no longer present, it remained a popular spot for picnics. During this time, the park was referred to as Opatrny's Woods and Opatrny's Grove.

In 1942, the Picnic Grove land was purchased by Louis, Jr., and Clara Cernocky. Louis was a successful local businessman and Clara was the daughter of Eman Opatrny. Cernocky improved the Picnic Grove with the addition of amenities including a dance pavilion and air-conditioned cocktail lounge, refreshment stands, outdoor fireplaces, a bath house, restrooms, a baseball diamond, and a 300-foot sand beach.

In the early 1960s additional acreage was purchased and a ski hill complete with two rope tows, a vertical drop of 145 feet and a ski shop were established. This came to be known as the Barberry Hills Ski Area. The two ropes and shop are gone, but the hill is still a popular winter destination as a sledding hill.

In 1961 The Grove Marina opened and featured a restaurant, cocktail lounge, live entertainment, boat launch, marine supplies sales and boat slips for rent until being destroyed by fire in the mid-1970s.

The Picnic Grove advertised as "40 Acres of Paradise" by Cernocky, remained a popular vacation destination for approximately 20 years before it fell into disarray. Between 1976 and 1993 the property remained unused. In 1994 the Village of Fox River Grove obtained a grant to acquire 40 acres (160,000 m2) along the river and named the property Picnic Grove Park. The rest of the land was developed into what is now the Picnic Grove subdivision. Picnic Grove Park is one of the last remaining public areas on the Fox River. It currently contains a playground, picnic shelter, gazebo, grills, and picnic tables. The only traces of the park's former life are the original roadway and the concrete slab where the Grove Marina once stood.

In 1905, the Norge Ski Club bought some land and built a ski jump at Fox River Grove. The Norge Ski Club is the oldest continuously open ski club in the United States.

In 1919, the village of Fox River Grove officially incorporated becoming the ninth Village in McHenry County. In the same year Louis Cernocky, Sr., at the corner of Northwest Highway and Lincoln Avenue established the Fox River Grove Inn - Louis's Place, a restaurant and bar frequented by many prominent Chicago residents and several notorious gangsters.

In 1921, Cernocky added a small retail section to the building, and in 1922 he subdivided the land and named it Cernocky's Subdivision of Block 12.

Built in 1923 and first known as the Fox River Grove Pavilion and Cernocky's Pavilion before finally being named the Crystal Ballroom was an eight-sided dance hall adorned with a flashing electric sign at the top, showing a golden pheasant with many colors. In 1939 a fire of suspicious origin broke out in the ballroom so a night watchman was placed on guard while the fire was being investigated. A week later, six men came during the night, and while four of them saturated the ballroom with kerosene, the other two abducted the night watchman and a visiting fire marshal at gunpoint. They fled in their cars and drove towards Barrington, Illinois while two bombs were detonated in the ballroom. The captives were released near Palatine, Illinois. The resulting fire from the explosions gutted the ballroom but didn't damage the roof or the adjoining shops. The interior of the ballroom was repaired, but the ballroom never reopened for dancing.

In 1931, Theodore Bettendorff began work on what would come to be known as Castle Vianden, which is located along what is now U.S. Route 14. By 1960, the castle, which was open to visitors, had eight towers, a guard room, bugle tower, castle yard, enclosed sun porch, modern kitchen, garage, dungeon, and a wishing well. Bettendorff continued to add to his castle until his death in 1967. During the 1970s, the castle was rented out as a honeymoon retreat. The castle remains a private residence, but recently the owners of the property have been engaged in an ongoing effort to reopen the property for public enjoyment.

In 1945, Fox River Grove established the first VFW post in McHenry County.

On August 21, 2019, Fox River Grove will celebrate its 100th anniversary. To celebrate the centennial, the village will host historical tours, a carnival, and a parade during the summer of 2019.[5]


Fox River Grove is located primarily in McHenry County and partially in Lake County, Illinois, along U.S. Route 14, 42 miles (68 km) northwest of downtown Chicago. It is situated on the south bank of the Fox River, which flows southwest to the Illinois River. The village of Cary is located on the north side of the river, connected to Fox River Grove by a bridge on Route 14.

According to the 2010 census, Fox River Grove has a total area of 1.78 square miles (4.61 km2), all land.[6]

Parks and recreation[edit]

Lion's Park on the Fox River
Spotted Sandpiper at Lion's Park

Over 100 acres in Fox River Grove are classified as public parks and open space. Between the village's 11 parks, access to playgrounds, basketball and volleyball courts, sledding hills, baggo (cornhole) sets, soccer and baseball fields, picnic areas, fishing spots, hiking areas, and an ice skating area are made available to residents and visitors.[7]

During the annual Fireworks Celebration (always on the Saturday after the 4th of July), Fox River Grove shoots off fireworks from 30-acre Picnic Grove Park.[8] Also in July, Picnic Grove Park serves as the "battlefield" for the Fox River Grove Fire District's water fights. During this community event, residents watch the village's firefighters take on other departments in a family-friendly water battle.[8]

Lion's Park, being nestled along a bend of the Fox River, provides scenic views of Cary as well as a home for native flora and fauna. This waterside park also is the site of Lions Fest, a yearly September festival in which Fox River Grove residents gather to converse and eat roasted corn.[8]


Despite being a small and intimate village, Fox River Grove is home to several distinct neighborhoods. With varying home sizes and differing vibes, the village offers neighborhoods that are sure to fit a plethora of desires and lifestyles.[9]

Castle Estates

Snaking along the main drag of Concord Avenue, Castle Estates offers some of the oldest and cheapest homes in the village. Perfect for investors and Yuppies, Castle Estates provides many unique real estate opportunities.

Chalets of Fox River Grove

Fox River Grove Station

This tiny hamlet within the village contains two condominium buildings. Being situated mere steps from the Fox River Grove Metra Station, the Chalets are perfect for young professionals who want easy access to the jobs and nightlife of Chicago.

Country View

Country View is a small neighborhood situated in the northern part of Fox River Grove. Most homes in the neighborhood are 2,000 square feet on average and typically have four bedrooms and two bathrooms. Country View is best suited for buyers looking for a decidedly suburban neighborhood.

Crystal Creek

Tiny Crystal Creek consists of a small cluster of homes on Bloner Parkway. Close to Spring Creek and Algonquin Road Elementary, Crystal Creek is the perfect fit for families who value nature and education.


Located southwest of Route 12, Foxmoor is a well-established neighborhood made up of single-family homes. The first homes in Foxmoor were erected in the early 1980s. Consisting of winding streets, cul-de-sacs, and an abundance of children roaming in the streets, Foxmoor is a suitable neighborhood in which to raise a family. Foxmoor truly is the heart and soul of Fox River Grove.

Hillview Estates

Large plots of land and plenty of nature are the hallmarks of Hillview Estates. Located on the western side of town, Hillview Estates is just a couple blocks from the banks of the Fox River.

Hunter's Farm

Hunter's Farm was built between 2000 and 2003. The village's most expensive homes are found in Hunter's Farm—most are priced at the half-million range. Ritzy and high-class, this neighborhood is ideal for the particular and exclusive buyer.


Boasting Cape Cod style homes on quarter-acre plots, Konopasek is one of the village's most historic neighborhoods (with the earliest homes being built in the early 1900s). Konopasek homes are reasonably-priced, and many offer water access and views of the Fox River.

Maplewood Meadow Estates

When one pictures a typical, family-friendly neighborhood in the suburban Midwest, Maplewood Meadow Estates (MME) should come to mind. Homes in MME are perfect for both young couples ready to fill their nest as well as empty-nesters who are enjoying their golden years.

Picnic Grove

Winding along Barberry Trail, Picnic Grove is a quaint neighborhood on the north side of the village. The area was first developed in 1996, and it is home to some of Fox River Grove's largest houses.

Ski Hill

The appropriately-named Ski Hill neighborhood is located minutes away from the renowned Norge Ski Club. Large homes built between 2006 and 2008 fill Ski Hill. Those who enjoy watching or participating in winter sports would acclimate nicely to this neighborhood.

Venetian Gardens

Radiating from the banks of the Fox River, Venetian Gardens consists of reasonably-priced, single-family homes. While waterfront properties elsewhere can go for millions of dollars, middle-class families wanting to be near the water can find their own slice of paradise in the Venetian Gardens. Some waterfront properties even have boat docks and stunning views of the Cary skyline.

Victoria Woods

Just north of Half Day Road, Victoria Woods is an exclusive neighborhood on the edge of Fox River Grove. Picturesque, single-family homes line the female-named streets (Heather Ct., Primrose Lane, Jasmine Way, Camilla Place, etc.).


On the crest of the Fox River, Vorisek offers quarter-acre lots with three-bedroom, two-bath homes. The neighborhood provides a unique, Northwoods feel.


Nestled in the crux between Route 12 and Half Day Road, Welch's is an established neighborhood. With large lots and dotted among wooded glens, Welch's offers a countryside escape from the more urban areas of Fox River Grove.


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 20184,630[2]−4.6%
U.S. Decennial Census[10]

As of the census[11] of 2000, there were 4,862 people, 1,677 households, and 1,294 families residing in the village. The population density was 2,929.6 people per square mile (1,130.9/km2). There were 1,734 housing units at an average density of 1,044.8 per square mile (403.3/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 95.91% White, 0.68% African American, 0.12% Native American, 1.28% Asian, 1.13% from other races, and 0.88% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.83% of the population.

There were 1,677 households out of which 45.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.7% were married couples living together, 8.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.8% were non-families. 17.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.90 and the average family size was 3.34.

In the village, the population was spread out with 31.7% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 35.0% from 25 to 44, 20.4% from 45 to 64, and 6.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 104.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.9 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $66,469, and the median income for a family was $78,847. Males had a median income of $59,306 versus $28,643 for females. The per capita income for the village was $28,870. About 5.2% of families and 7.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.6% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.


Elementary and Middle School

The majority of children in the village are serviced by Fox River Grove School District #3. This district is made up of two schools: Algonquin Road Elementary School and Fox River Grove Middle School.

Algonquin Road Elementary School (also known as ARS) provides a Kindergarten through 4th grade educational curriculum and boasts a 12:1 student-teacher ratio.[12] In 2019, 52% of ARS students were deemed "proficient" in math, and only 47% tested at or above Illinois's set proficiency level in reading.[13]

Two-hundred and five students in 5th through 8th grade attended Fox River Grove Middle School (FRGMS) in 2019. 53% of FRGMS students were proficient in math in 2019, and 55% were proficient in reading. The middle school's student to teacher ratio was 14:1.[14]

High School

Most students in Fox River Grove attend Cary-Grove Community High School located across the Fox River in neighboring Cary, Illinois. Home of the Trojans, Cary-Grove is known throughout the state for its football and girls' volleyball teams. In addition to students in Cary and Fox River Grove, Cary-Grove also services students from eastern Crystal Lake, and areas of Trout Valley, Oakwood Hills, and Barrington.[15]

Lake County Schools

A small number of Fox River Grove students residing in the exclusive communities of Victoria Woods and Hunter's Farm attend schools in Barrington Community School District #220.[15]

Far West Side

Fox River Grove is also served by District 300.

Fox River Grove level crossing accident[edit]

On October 25, 1995, a Metra passenger train, running express towards Chicago, collided with a Cary-Grove High School school bus, killing seven high school students. The accident brought reform and increased safety standards nationwide for signaled rail crossings located very near street and highway intersections which are regulated by traffic signals, also known as interconnected crossings.


  1. ^ "2017 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved Dec 29, 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". Retrieved September 28, 2019.
  3. ^ "Geographic Identifiers: 2010 Demographic Profile Data (G001): Fox River Grove village, Illinois". U.S. Census Bureau, American Factfinder. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  4. ^ [1] "History of Fox River Grove"
  5. ^ [2] "Fox River Grove's Centennial Celebration"
  6. ^ "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-08-03.
  7. ^ [3] "Parks & Recreation"
  8. ^ a b c [4] "Events & Attractions"
  9. ^ [5] "Neighborhoods of Fox River Grove"
  10. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Archived from the original on April 26, 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
  11. ^ "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Archived from the original on 2013-09-11. Retrieved 2008-01-31.
  12. ^ [6] "Algonquin Road Elementary School"
  13. ^ [7]
  14. ^ [8] "Fox River Grove Middle School"
  15. ^ a b [9] "Fox River Grove Schools"

External links[edit]