Homewood, Illinois

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Ridge Road in Downtown Homewood.jpg
Official name: Village of Homewood
Country United States
State Illinois
County Cook
Township Rich, Thornton
Elevation 659 ft (201 m)
Coordinates 41°33′26″N 87°39′56″W / 41.55722°N 87.66556°W / 41.55722; -87.66556Coordinates: 41°33′26″N 87°39′56″W / 41.55722°N 87.66556°W / 41.55722; -87.66556
Area 5.26 sq mi (14 km2)
 - land 5.21 sq mi (13 km2)
 - water 0.05 sq mi (0 km2)
Population 19,323 (2010)
Density 3,708.8/sq mi (1,432/km2)
Founded 1893
Government village
Village President Richard A. Hofeld
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Postal code 60422, 60430
Area code 708
Location in Cook County and the state of Illinois.
Location of Illinois in the United States
Wikimedia Commons: Homewood, Illinois
Website: www.homesweethomewood.com

Homewood is a village in Cook County, Illinois, United States, and a suburb of Chicago. The population was 19,323 at the 2010 census.[1] Homewood is a sister city to Homewood, Alabama. In 2007, Forbes magazine rated Homewood as one of the three most "livable" suburbs in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.[2]

Homewood is a popular south suburb thanks to its low cost of living, low crime rates, great schools, and great services. It is in close proximity to many country clubs, has a bustling downtown area, and is only a 45-minute train ride away from Chicago on the Metra Electric Line.


According to the 2010 census, Homewood has a total area of 5.259 square miles (13.62 km2), of which 5.21 square miles (13.49 km2) (or 99.07%) is land and 0.049 square miles (0.13 km2) (or 0.93%) is water.[3] It lies on the Calumet Shoreline. The ancient shoreline can be seen clearly as the sand ridge along Ridge Road. A south suburban village, Homewood is 22 miles (35 km) due south of The Loop/downtown Chicago at 800 west and 18300 south on the Chicago grid system.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 352
1910 713 102.6%
1920 1,389 94.8%
1930 3,227 132.3%
1940 4,078 26.4%
1950 5,887 44.4%
1960 13,371 127.1%
1970 18,871 41.1%
1980 19,724 4.5%
1990 19,278 −2.3%
2000 19,543 1.4%
2010 19,323 −1.1%
Est. 2015 19,373 [4] 0.3%
U.S. Decennial Census[5]

As of the census[6] of 2000, there were 19,543 people, 7,552 households, and 5,256 families residing in the village. The population density was 3,755.5 people per square mile (1,451.1/km²). There were 7,827 housing units at an average density of 1,504.1 per square mile (581.2/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 56.50% White, 33.70% African American, 0.09% Native American, 1.40% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 2.10% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.9% of the population.

There were 7,552 households out of which 35.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.7% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.4% were non-families. 27.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the village the population was spread out with 27.1% under the age of 18, 5.4% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 24.3% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 85.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.3 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $57,213, and the median income for a family was $70,941. Males had a median income of $50,689 versus $35,978 for females. The per capita income for the village was $26,074. About 3.2% of families and 4.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.


Homewood is in Illinois' 2nd congressional district, currently represented by Rep. Robin Kelly.

Village President (Mayor) Richard Hofeld is the current and longest serving Mayor in Homewood history, having been elected to his fourth term in May 2009, as head of the Greater Homewood Party (GHP). Hofeld is noted for donating 100% of his Village salary to local charities and non-profit organizations. He has maintained much of his popularity due to his open door policy for all residents, as well as Downtown and Halsted Street corridor economic and commercial growth during his tenure.

Early history (pre-1945)[edit]

Homewood sits on the edge of prehistoric Lake Chicago, which was formed by retreating glaciers long before Lake Michigan. One of the main east-west roads through the town, Ridge Road, runs along the old sandy shoreline of that lake. The area is rich in limestone deposits, and neighbors Thornton Quarry. In its beginning, the area featured excellent topsoil, making it an appealing place for farmers to settle.

James and Sally Hart were the first confirmed settlers in the area in 1834. They were New Englanders, as were the families that immediately followed them: the Butterfields, the Campbells, the Clarks, and the Hoods. In 1839, German and Dutch families began to move into the area as well. The town began to use the name of Hartford.

The first store in Homewood was Hasting's General Store; Dr. William Doepp was its first doctor. Attracted by the country life after his Chicago practice was burned down, he moved to the area in 1851. His practice extended from Crown Point, Indiana, to New Lenox, Illinois, and he was required to keep two teams of horses in order to make all his calls.

In 1853, the Illinois Central Railroad (IC) established a station in Hartford, calling it Thornton Station, as most of the passengers came from nearby Thornton. This began a period of serious confusion, as mail for the two separate towns was regularly mixed up. In 1869, settlers petitioned the post office to be renamed as Homewood, after the woods that the residents lived among.

The 1870s brought a new era to Homewood, ushered in by trains and by the crowded conditions of the city. Country clubs such as the Homewood Country Club (later changed to Flossmoor Country Club), Dixmoor, Ravisloe, Idlewild and Calumet brought in trains just for golfers. The IC established the Calumet station specifically for their convenience. Wealthy families, impressed by the area and by the ease of getting to the city, established residences in the area, as permanent or summer homes.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, it was determined that the small two-room schoolhouse that had been built in the 1880s was inadequate. The Standard School was built in 1904 on Dixie Highway and Hickory for a cost of fourteen thousand dollars. It had four classrooms, two cloakrooms, a tiny office, attic and basement storage. It provided the community with a variety of entertainments in the form of spelling bees, box socials, school entertainment, and a play festival. As many of the children were expected to become farmers, garden and corn clubs were established. Nearby land was turned into gardening plots, but a dry season kept the project from being successful. However, one student, Elizabeth Szanyi, made a total of fifty-nine dollars from her produce patch.

Enrollment for the schools continued to grow, and in 1914 the school was forced to convert the cloakrooms into classrooms. In 1918, a nearby residence, the Zimmer house, was rented to house primary grades. In 1923, construction on Central School began. The new school had three more classrooms, an assembly hall, a teachers' room, and a room for health services. By 1928, there were enough students in the district to make a kindergarten class feasible, and extensive additions were made to the school. These renovations included eight new classrooms and a gymnasium-auditorium.

In the 1920s, Homewood became an important railroad depot, and many IC workers and their families moved to the area. Automobiles became a common sight on the streets of downtown. As traffic in the area continued to increase, village officials decided to install the town's first manually operated traffic signal at the corner of Ridge Road and Dixie Highway. This period marks the change from Homewood as a farming community to Homewood as a suburb, as families began to use stores and businesses to supply their needs. The population of the town increased from 713 to 1,593. Thirteen housing developments were recorded in Homewood from 1905 to 1930.

On July 3, 1926, Washington Park Race Track opened in Homewood and became home to a number of thoroughbred horse racing's major events, including the American Derby. Some of the sport's greatest horses, including Citation, Native Dancer and Whirlaway, competed at the track. Its most celebrated occasion was likely the August 31, 1955 match race between two champions, Nashua and Swaps, that featured a $100,000 prize to the winner. Nashua won by several lengths. On Feb. 5, 1977, the grandstand of Washington Park was destroyed in a fire, and the track was never reopened.

With the crash of the stock market in 1929, life in Homewood changed dramatically. People who worked in factories in Harvey and Chicago Heights lost their jobs, and many almost lost their homes. The Homewood State Bank was closed in the spring of 1932. Optimistic residents who had invested money in the bank until the day before it closed lost everything they had. The flood of trains to and from the city trickled down to three or four trains daily. Those people trying to make an income by bootlegging were raided, and shut down. Transients were common, and the police officers gave them a place to stay at night, a cup of coffee and a doughnut before they left in the morning. In 1932 alone, the jail housed 1,224 people. The schools, which had already been operating in the red, scraped through by cutting programs and by the determined efforts of the PTA, which opened a thrift shop as a fundraiser. The village was reduced to issuing scrip notes to its employees that could not be honored by local business; however, a rental of a large parcel of land by the Illinois Jockey Association ended this problem.

As the factories slowly began to reopen, the city began to tear down old buildings and replace them with new businesses. The most important of these was the Homewood Theater. At its "typical Hollywood opening" it was said, "bright lights will flood the sky, bands will blare, and the theatre will be officially presented to Mayor Fred Borgwordt of the town of Homewood." The opening picture was Double or Nothing with Bing Crosby and Martha Raye. The theater seemed to symbolize the return of hope to the city, and remained an important landmark for many years. In 1983, Richard Haas painted a mural on the backs of several buildings in the business district, matching their fronts to their backs. Most famous among these was on the back of the Homewood Theater, depicting it with three young women waiting to view It's a Wonderful Life. It was demolished in 1992, despite the comparison made by a local student of "throwing away the Mona Lisa just because the frame is broken."

Recent history (1945– )[edit]

World War II brought a time of great change to the area, although life in the village during the war was about the same as life anywhere. The number of Homewood men who entered the service is unknown, but the village maintains a complete list of the men who died and the circumstances of their death.

After the war, the veterans returned home to a rapidly growing Homewood. The desire of young couples to own a home of their own provided for a phenomenal growth and development of suburbs everywhere. To reflect these changes, the school board expanded the schools once again. In 1948, ground was broken for the new Ridge School, which was located immediately west of the Central School. It was immediately followed by the construction of Willow School, in 1953. In 1958, a junior high school was built and named after the area's first settler James Hart.

At the same time as the grade school expansion, a group of residents in Homewood and the neighboring community of Flossmoor worked to bring about a longtime dream of having a local high school, instead of sending students to Thornton, Bloom, Rich or Bremen Township High Schools. Homewood-Flossmoor High School opened its doors in 1959. Almost immediately afterward, in 1962 and 1966, large additions were made to the school. The student body grew so large that students were taught on half-day schedules until a second building to house them could be built in 1972.

The businesses of the area boomed, with the building of Westgate Shopping Center, Ridge-Mar Shopping Center, Northgate Shopping Center, Cherry Creek, Washington Square Plaza, Southgate Shopping Center and the West Homewood Commons. Washington Square Plaza was torn down in the nineties. A recent boom in business along Halsted Street (Illinois Route 1) has provided Homewood-area residents with a large number of chain stores.

In 1981, the first Homewood Fine Art Fair was held in the center of the village, on Ridge Road. Founder Barbara D. Smith (Homewood's first female Chamber of Commerce President) spent two years learning the recruiting, organizational and judging processes from a variety of experts, and ushered it through its first five years. Mohamed Drisi, the official portrait artist of Princess Grace of Monaco, observed the fair's progress for the first two years, after which he volunteered to bolster the status of the institution. The HFAF continues to be held each June in Marie Irwin Park, and is considered a backbone of the south suburban art scene. Not without controversy, Ms. Smith has expressed her concern at deviating from the original vision of "fine art only", and has been critical of what she terms downgrading to arts and crafts from juried fine art. Still, a testament to this new tradition is underscored by the fact that some of the original juried artists she procured continue to exhibit.

In 1993, Homewood celebrated its centennial. Summer saw scores of festivals, parades, and a play celebrating the history of Homewood.


Children in grades K-8 attend schools under the jurisdiction of Homewood public school district 153, although some may attend Flossmoor School District 161 if they live west of Governors Highway street and south of 183rd street. School District 153 has three schools: Winston Churchill Elementary, Willow Elementary, and James Hart Junior High School. Children in grades K-2 attend Willow, then move on to Churchill for grades 3 and 4, then move on to finish grades 5-8 at James Hart. The catholic school is St. Joseph's School.

The majority of students in the area then go on to attend the local public high school, Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Homewood-Flossmoor High School is its own school district, school district 233. H-F is a three-time winner of the U.S. Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Award for excellence. HF also owns WHFH 88.5, the highest powered high school radio station with 1,500 watts.

Rail transportation[edit]

Amtrak provides rail service to Homewood. Amtrak Train 59, the southbound City of New Orleans, is scheduled to depart Homewood at 8:54 pm daily with service to Kankakee and points south through Tennessee and Mississippi to New Orleans. Amtrak Train 58, the northbound City of New Orleans, is scheduled to depart Homewood at 7:44 am daily with service to Chicago Union Station. Homewood is also served by Amtrak Train 390/391, the Saluki, daily in the morning, and Amtrak Train 392/393, the Illini, daily in the afternoon/evening. Both the Saluki and Illini operate between Chicago and Carbondale, Illinois. Metra also provides commuter rail service on the Metra Electric line between Millennium Station and University Park.

Notable Residents[edit]

Joe "Homewood" Lindbloom

  • Peter Doran, Ph.D. - Founder of the Homewood Flossmoor Science Pub, is Professor of Geology and Geophysics at Louisiana State University. Doran specializes in polar regions, especially Antarctic climate and ecosystems. Doran was the lead author of a research paper about Antarctic temperatures that was published in the journal Nature in January 2002. Because he and his colleagues found that some parts of Antarctica had cooled between 1964 and 2000, his paper has been frequently cited by opponents of the global warming theory, such as Ann Coulter and Michael Crichton.
  • David Parry - The notorious founder of The Chicago Tafia Welsh Society resides in Homewood. Since 1999 the society has arranged numerous Welsh and other Celtic events around Chicago, including a number of events in Homewood.[7]
  • Brian Colin - Is an American video-game designer, artist and animator. Among his best-known works are the coin-operated arcade games Rampage, Arch Rivals and Rampage: World Tour as well as General Chaos for the Sega Genesis game console. He is the CEO of Game Refuge Inc.
  • Susan D. Page - Susan Denise Page is the first ever U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan. Page's ambassadorial nomination was announced by the White House on August 18, 2011 and she was confirmed on October 18, 2011. She served in her role as U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan from October 2011 through July 2015.
  • Sarah Bloom Raskin - Sarah Bloom Raskin is an American attorney and regulator, who was formerly a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and current United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Previously, she served as Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation.
  • Jason Benetti - Acts as a play-by-play broadcaster for ESPN, Fox Sports, Westwood One, and Time Warner covering football, baseball, lacrosse, hockey, and basketball. Beginning in 2016, he will also be the television play-by-play announcer for Chicago White Sox home games.
  • Brian Kerwin - Kerwin's feature films include Murphy's Romance, Hard Promises, 27 Dresses (as Katherine Heigl's character's father), Torch Song Trilogy, Love Field, Jack, King Kong Lives,The Myth of Fingerprints, and Debating Robert Lee. Kerwin has enjoyed an extensive career in television, beginning with the daytime serial The Young and the Restless in 1976. In addition to many television movies, his credits include a regular role on the Showtime series Beggars and Choosers, recurring roles on The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, The Chisholms (four 1979 episodes as Gideon Chisholm), Roseanne, The West Wing, Nip/Tuck and Big Love and guest appearances in The Love Boat, Simon & Simon, Highway to Heaven, Murder, She Wrote, St. Elsewhere, Frasier, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Blue Bloods, Boston Legal, Medium, Without a Trace, and Desperate Housewives. In 2007, he joined the cast of the soap opera One Life to Live. Brian was also in a television movie with Michelle Pfeiffer called Tales from the Hollywood Hills: Natica Jackson.
  • George Nolfi - Is an American screenwriter, producer and director. He directed the 2011 film The Adjustment Bureau. In 2004, he adapted his spec screenplay Honor Among Thieves (previously considered as a John Woo vehicle) into the sequel to Ocean's Eleven called Ocean's Twelve. He has also written screenplays for Timeline and The Sentinel. He co-wrote The Bourne Ultimatum with Tony Gilroy, and Scott Z. Burns.


External links[edit]