Country Club Hills began in 1955 when local developer J. E. Merrion fulfilled his vision of spacious, affordable, middle income homes with a country-like atmosphere.
This area, originally known as “Cooper’s Grove”, had been occupied by German farmers, who settled on the land in the 1800’s. Their children went to a one room school house, located at the south east corner of what is now 183rd and Cicero.
In 1872, some of the settlers founded their own church and school, which they named St. John’s Lutheran Church and school. According to a book prepared in 1976 by the Country Club Hills Bicentennial Commission of the American Revolution, “Stone blocks for the building (church) were hauled from the Joliet quarry by teams of 24 mules on a trip lasting several days. The blocks were moved by log rollers as they were too heavy for any wheeled vehicle. The entire building was raised by hand with only the use of ropes and pulleys.” The church was finished in 1873 and will celebrate its 134th anniversary this year.
New families were drawn to this area, enticed by the large, half-acre lots, award-winning home styles, and sprawling streets. By 1956, about 117 homes were completed, and a new group, the Country Club Hills Homeowners Association, pushed for incorporation. On July 12, 1958, the citizens of this growing area voted to incorporate as a City with a Mayor-Aldermanic Council type of government.
The first election was held in August of 1958. The newly elected officials had much to do. Evenings were spent drafting up ordinances to start a working City Government that could start receiving the tax monies that the budding City needed to grow and flourish. It was not unusual for these officials, who received $1.00 per year, to have a special meeting every evening that lasted until two o’clock in the morning. This was, of course, after they had spent the day at their regular jobs and a brief time at home with their families.
The first City Hall was a 131 year old farm house located at 177th and Crawford. The City installed indoor plumbing, remodeled the interior, and leased the four acre farm, complete with apple orchard, for $1.00 per year.
In April of 1972, a new municipal complex, located on 175th Place, was dedicated. This is the current site of the Police Department.
The first Police Department was housed in one room of the City Hall, a converted farm house. In 1961, it was moved to an abandoned garage, also located on the farm house property. During the first three years, the patrolmen worked without pay. They had to supply their own uniforms and guns.
The first commercial building permit was issued in November, 1961 for a Marathon gas station, located at Flossmoor Road and Cicero Avenue. In February of 1963, the first liquor license was issued to Garofalo’s Family Foods, which was the City’s first grocery store and was located at 183rd and Pulaski, the current site of Home Furniture. In December of 1963, the City’s first pharmacy, O’Brien & Flynn, opened next to Garafalo’s. The first tax-supported building constructed was the Civic Center, located at 187th & Baker, which was dedicated in September, 1964.
We owe many thanks to these founders, who designed the City Government that serves us today. The following remarks are from a historical book about the city called “From Coopers Grove to Country Club Hills”.
Country Club Hills has become what it is today because of the willingness of its residents to donate their time and talents to the building of a city of which they can be proud.
People working together to build a church, regardless of faith; a community working to build a Civic Center and Library; neighbors helping out when a family comes into some hard times; people responding to a community appeal for blood to meet the needs of a young hemophiliac; this is the spirit upon which Country Club Hills was created.
Now, over 50 years later, this spirit of compassion and volunteerism continues to exist.