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History of the Highlands and the Woodlands

Sometimes people refer to the entire area east of County Line Road between 47th and 55th Streets, bounded on the east by the Illinois Tollway, as the Woodlands. In actuality, “The Woodlands” subdivision is only the southern portion of the Cook County side of Hinsdale. The northern half is officially the “Highlands” subdivision.


The Highlands

Before the railroad arrived in 1864 and Hinsdale was even platted, the 640 acres of Section 7 along the western edge of Lyons Township in Cook County, Illinois, was owned by A. G. Sharp.

Section 7 along the western edge of Lyons Township. “Map of Cook County, Illinois.” S.H. Burhans & J. Van Vechten, Chicago, 1861.
Section 7 along the western edge of Lyons Township. “Map of Cook County, Illinois.” S.H. Burhans & J. Van Vechten, Chicago, 1861.

By 1886, Hinsdale founder William Robbins owned all but the northeast corner of Section 7, a total of 494 acres. Robbins sold his 494 acres to Hamilton B. Bogue sometime before 1890.


Section 7 along the western edge of Lyons Township. “Snyder’s Real Estate Map of Cook County, Illinois.” L.M. Snyder & Co., Chicago, 1886.
Section 7 along the western edge of Lyons Township. “Snyder’s Real Estate Map of Cook County, Illinois.” L.M. Snyder & Co., Chicago, 1886.

Hamilton B. Bogue was a real estate agent in business with his brother George Marquis Bogue, who had moved to Hinsdale in April 1888. George M. Bogue entered the burgeoning Chicago real estate trade in 1867. Eventually, George partnered with his brother, Hamilton B., and Henry W. Hoyt to form the Bogue & Hoyt firm in 1883. Hoyt passed away in 1891, and the Bogue brothers reorganized their firm, adding partner Harry W. Christian, as Bogue & Co.


The Bogue & Co. firm was quite lucrative with one of their main financiers being Henry Phipps, Jr. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Phipps was an entrepreneur and known for his business relationship with childhood friend and neighbor, Andrew Carnegie. As a successful real estate investor, Phipps had holdings in numerous states, including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Florida. In 1888, Phipps and several partners, including Hinsdale resident and lawyer Henry Gardner, began their relationship with the Bogue brothers to build their Chicago-area portfolio.


In 1892, the firm of Bogue & Co. subdivided the northwest corner of Section 7 into the “Highlands” and had it annexed into the Village of Hinsdale.


Bogue & Co.'s Hinsdale Sub. from the map of "Hinsdale, DuPage Co., ILL." L.C. Van Liew, 1893."
Bogue & Co.'s Hinsdale Sub. from the map of "Hinsdale, DuPage Co., ILL." L.C. Van Liew, 1893."

However, before they could sell many lots, the country was hit by the financial Panic of 1893, and Bogue & Co. went bankrupt in 1894. A good portion of their holdings transferred to Phipps, including the remaining Highlands lots and the southern half of Section 7.


Starting in 1897, Emily A. Bogue, wife of Hamilton, sued over the foreclosure of her home on Greenwood Avenue in Chicago, and by 1902 the case had been appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. The resulting documentation outlines the rise and fall of the Bogue brothers, their relationship with Phipps et al., and their Chicago-area land holdings.


Phipps continued to sell lots and smaller parcels of Section 7 into the early 20th century, including 12 acres at 6th Street to multi-millionaire and capitalist, Lemuel Hinton Freer, in 1901. This property is at 505 S County Line Road. Joseph Carson Llewellyn designed the $25,000 home which still stands, although altered, today.


You can read all about the Freer Estate on our separate blog post on 505 South County Line Road.


The Woodlands

By May 1923, the Phipps Estate (east of County Line Road between Sixth and Tenth [55th] Streets minus the Freer estate), was being surveyed for subdivision. William R. Jordan and Ralph Olmstead of River Forest had purchased the southwest corner of Section 7 and were “interested in evolving an ideal subdivision.” They even hired well-known architect George W. Maher to design the landscape.

Subdivision plat for The Woodlands, Hinsdale, Illinois, filed April 1924.
Subdivision plat for The Woodlands, Hinsdale, Illinois, filed April 1924.

The Woodlands was officially platted and annexed into the Village in April 1924, and local interest in building there boomed in 1925. Architects White & Weber were retained to design several model homes and supervise the planning of others being constructed.


Several large advertisements in The Doings, prominently featuring William R. Jordan’s signature, extolled the neighborhood’s virtues:

"THE WOODLANDS is a place to LIVE. A place where you can confidently build the home around which will center the pleasant memories of your children. There they will grow up influenced by natural beauty and artistic development."

In July 1925, Jordan and Olmstead hosted a dinner party, attended by many of the soon-to-be residents, to help promote The Woodlands as “far more than a business undertaking.”


The Doings specifically mentioned the following prominent men and provided some details about the houses they planned to build:


  • T. Seward Gamble – 707 Taft Rd. The plan for this 11-room house was based on a design “which won first prize in a contest conducted by the House Beautiful” magazine. Gamble worked in advertising; he sold the house in Sept 1928 and moved out of state.

  • Malcolm Mecartney – 712 Taft Rd. This home plan received an honorable mention in Country Life magazine. He was a lawyer.

  • Phil Lyford – 566 Woodland Ave. This Spanish Eclectic home, designed by R. Harold Zook, was “awarded the distinction of being considered the ‘finest home east of the Mississippi’.” Lyford was a commercial artist who worked in advertising and as an illustrator for several magazines.

  • John C. B. Parker – 626 Woodland Ave. He was an insurance broker.

  • Raymond F. DaBoll – 917 Cleveland Rd. This was “an Italian house with a unique studio room,” which burned down in July 1972. DaBoll, who later moved to Arkansas, was a commercial artist and published several books on calligraphy.


Today, The Woodlands (and Highlands) still evokes some of the sentiments praised upon it as it was being developed. That it will “strengthen our claim to the slogan, ‘A city of beautiful homes’” and will “undoubtedly be the future beauty spot of the community.”


"View in Woodlands" showing 626 Woodland Ave. on the left and 566 Woodland Ave. to the right, c. 1927
"View in Woodlands" showing 626 Woodland Ave. on the left and 566 Woodland Ave. to the right, c. 1927

626 Woodland Ave., c. 1926
626 Woodland Ave., c. 1926

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