Mount Prospect Country Club

Does MPHS have photographs: Yes

Address: 600 S. See Gwum

Is building standing: Yes

What is at site: Mount Prospect Park District

When was business founded: 1926

Is business still operating: Not in its original form

If no, when did it close: 1930

Who owned business: Axel Lonnquist

Interesting stories, facts, history:

The Mount Prospect Country Club was started by a developer named Axel Lonnquist. He purchased the farms of Fred Schaefer and Henry Menshing in 1925. His plan for the area was different from earlier sub-developments in Mount Prospect. What he planned was “a luxury community.” He wanted to utilize both the natural beauty of the area and the modern ideas of suburbs for this sub-development. 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 he numerous trains in and out of the city for the working professionals. This was meant to be a push and a pull with the ideas of getting away from the pace, and corruption of the city, and getting to the bliss of the quite country home. This is sub-development drew together all of the 1920s ideas of suburbanization and put it in the reach of the middle classes in Chicago. He specified the lots in the sub-development were to be larger and be able 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 Club House.

As a progressive developer he thought beyond his own sub-division. He spoke publicly, at both national and local events about the responsibility of developers to think in terms of the larger community. He wanted to work with the other developers in the community to coordinate efforts at improving the village and the services offered to residents. This sub-development and the ideas of the luxury suburbs with country clubs and coordinated services redefined the way Mount Prospect saw its self and the way it was seen by outsiders. This was probably the way in which Lonnquist was most influential in the community. He made people think of the suburbs as better than living in the city. Transportation resources and new municipal services would offer all the resources and comforts of the city while also allowing a relaxed area with access to nature and luxury leisure pastimes.

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 did not sell most of his land before the crash of 1929 and the depression that followed. The great depression was not the best time to be selling luxury suburban lots. 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. He continued to hold onto some land in the community until 1946, when he left the land in trust to his children.

The history of his developments following his departure is also quite fascinating. After Lonnquist sold the land, it was purchased by 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 for a few years and then in 1958 he sold the course to reputed gang member Richard Hauff. Hauff was unusual character in the history of Mount Prospect. He had been born in Iran and was orphaned at a young age. He was found wandering in the desert by a couple of U.S. Army Engineers who were there during WWII. He was later adopted by one and brought back to Arlington Heights. He showed great potential as a golfer in high school but at some point ended up associated with members of organized crime. To this day, no one really knows where he got the money to purchase the course in 1958 but it is suspected to have Mafia ties. He had the course redesigned and hosted the women’s Master’s PGA tournament in 1959. This certainly put Mount Prospect on the map, however it was not very profitable for Hauff. He 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, making it a public course and what we all know today. Much as Axel Lonnquist had intended, his sub-division and golf course, helped redefine the community and became a great asset to the community as a whole.

Switch to mobile version
%d bloggers like this: