Mount Prospect Country Club House

Name of Building or Business: Northwest Hill Country Club House

Address: 600 S. SeeGwun

Built: 1929

Demolished: 2003

What is currently at that address: Mount Prospect Golf Club House

The Country Club was built by Axel Lonnquist, the developer who originally laid out the golf course and the neighborhoods surrounding it. He was one of the largest developers in Mount Prospect’s first real estate boom in the 1920s. The golf course was constructed first, then a children’s playhouse and finally the clubhouse. Originally, the country club was built as an incentive for real estate speculation. It was operated as a private club and membership was restricted to those who bought property in Lonnquist’s development. The original 1929 building was the showpiece of this early suburban housing development. Lonnquist helped to redefine the village of Mount Prospect and, in a small way, suburbs nationally. In the 1920s, when Lonnquist came to Mount Prospect, cities were beginning to be seen as threatening, rather than places of opportunity. Lonnquist played off of this and the history of the glorification of nature, the role of domesticity, and the idea of the home. This, tied to the investment in transportation and the technological advances in housing construction, made it the right time and the right place for a person like Axel Lonnquist.

His development in Mount Prospect was different from earlier subdivisions in town. He purchased the farms of Fred Schaefer and Henry Mensching in 1925 and planned “a luxury community.” He planned to utilize both the natural beauty of the area and the modern ideas of suburbs for this community. In his advertisements, he heralded the semi-rural landscape with the proximity to the scenic Weller Creek, safe from the hectic pace of the city. He also advertised the numerous trains in and out of the city for working professionals. This was meant to be a push and a pull with the ideas of escaping to the bliss of the quiet country home while needing top get your family away from the pace and corruption of the city. He specified that the lots in the development were to be large enough to support both a comfortable home and good-sized yard. The crowning glory of this development however, was to be the Northwest Hills Country Club. His idea was that membership in this would be associated with owing a lot in his development. He opened the Country Club in 1926, although it was then only a nine-hole course. He later expanded it to an 18 hole course and, in 1929, opened the clubhouse.

Although Axel Lonnquist was able to redefine Mount Prospect, he was not able to make a lot of money on the endeavor. Due to the timing of his investment, he was not able to sell most of his land before the crash of 1929 and the depression that followed. He sold his property in Mount Prospect at huge discounts in 1931 to cover debt. In the time that he owned the land, he had been able to plat the streets, build the country club and a few demonstration homes, but he built very few homes that are standing today. The Country Club was then sold to a man named Harold Wilson who changed the name of the club to the more familiar Mount Prospect Country Club. He made it a semi-private club with annual dues and held onto it until 1950, when he sold it to Henry Sophie. Sophie ran the club until 1958, when he sold the course to Richard Hauff, who was a suspected member of the mafia. Hauff was very controversial, but redesigned the course, hosted the Women’s Master’s PGA tournament in 1959 and then declared bankruptcy in 1960 and put the course up for sale. After an involved fight to pass a referendum, the Mount Prospect Park District finally purchased it in 1961. Over the years, a number of additions were put onto the clubhouse leaving hard to recognize any historic value in the building. The structure was eventually demolished in 2003 although when it came down, a time capsule was found in the corner stone. This held a little glimpse of the glamour and luxury that this building had once represented.

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