Homewood

Homewood is a peaceful and secure community with nationally acclaimed schools, an award-winning recreation and parks department, and good housing. The Chicago Loop is just 25 miles north, so the 19,600 or so Homewood residents benefit from the world-class culture and economic opportunities offered by this important city while enjoying the security and neighborliness of life on its outskirts.

Twice ranked first in delivering quality education coupled with affordable housing by Chicago Magazine, Homewood has consistently high-rating schools. The Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School is a three-time United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award winner, an honor that has only been bestowed upon two other high schools in Illinois. 98% of its students graduate and 92% attend college, many locally at the excellent Prairie State College or South Suburban College. Governors State University is a short trip away and offers a wide range of degree programs.

The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District has won important awards for the excellence of its service to the local community and is widely recognized as one of the best in the state. The District cares for thirty parks, two swimming pools, a racquet and fitness club, an ice arena, and a large community center, and runs an exciting year round program of activities for all age groups.

Pretty Homewood village has many churches, a synagogue, and a wide range of department and one-of-a-kind stores. There are several malls in town and some great restaurants and nightspots.

Location
One of Chicago's southernmost suburbs, Homewood is in Cook County, Illinois.

Homewood is about 25 miles south of Downtown Chicago and Aurora is 40 miles west. Gary, Indiana is 18 miles east. Flossmoor is about 2 miles from Homewood.

Geography
Homewood is fairly flat, with an abundance of trees and parks. The Zander Woods Forest Preserve sits on the settlement's eastern border and Lake Michigan is about 12 miles northeast.

Jobs
While many Homewood residents commute to other parts of Chicago to work (the Downtown Chicago Loop is just 25 miles north) there is plenty of employment closer to home. Local hospitals and colleges are major employers, the largest being Advocate South Suburban Hospital in nearby Hazel Crest, which hires 1,350 locals and the nearby South Suburban College.

Housing
Known for its lovely late Victorians and early twentieth-century homes, Homewood is a quiet residential community with a wealth of old-growth trees and attractive public plantings. Many homes are architect designed and sitting on large garden properties.

With home values quietly on the rise, Homewood is a smart place to invest in property; this said, there are usually a good number of homes on the market and a reasonable degree of choice in both price and type of home.

Housing prices (for single family homes) currently average about $245,000.

Recreation
Homewood has many beautiful parks, ample ball fields and golf courses, a top Ice Arena, and an award winning park and recreation department that is easily one of the best in Illinois.

The wider Southland Chicago region has over 30 public and semi-public golf courses and Homewood itself has several of them. Easily the best is the Ravisloe Country Club, a spectacular private facility with an 18-hole course built in 1901 and designed by notable architect, Theodore J. Moreau. The Calumet Country Club, also founded in 1901, is another superb course, designed by Donald Ross. Apart from its golf course, Calumet also has a beautiful clubhouse with a ballroom and a new swimming pool. The town run club, Coyote Run, is a beautiful course with a fine clubhouse and restaurant.

The Homewood/Flossmoor Park District has received national and state awards for the excellence of its park and recreational management and it offers local residents state of the art facilities and a wide range of affordable and fun fitness programs.

One of the best facilities is the Homewood-Flossmoor Ice Arena in Homewood, which hosts a superb annual ice show and helps account for the number of top ice skaters in the area. Another is the Homewood-Flossmoor Racquet and Fitness Club in nearby Flosswood, and the two community pools, Dolphin Lake and Lions Club.

One of the nicest wilderness areas is the nearby Izaak Walton Preserve, which has attractive hiking trails and well stocked fishing lakes. For water sports, Lake Michigan is about 20 miles north and is perfect for boating, water skiing and the like. Conditions in "the Windy City" make also make it ideal for sailing.

Special Attractions/Events
Homewood's beautiful and affordable homes, excellent schools and award winning recreational department make this friendly Chicago Southland community a special place to live and raise a family. The thriving local arts scene brings much to community life, including the annual Fine Art Fair which has been running for twenty-five years.

Locals also enjoy concerts under the stars throughout the summer months and a wide range of holiday festivals throughout the year, including an Independence Day parade and picnic, and "Homewood Days", a fantastic block party that ranges over three days.

There are a wide range of sporting events held throughout the year also, from local children's competitions to big events like the annual Ice Show in the Homewood Flossmoor Ice Arena, an event that draws thousands. The yearly "Tennisfest" also attracts many, with free clinics and USA 1-2-3 tennis lessons, a tennis sculpture contest, tournaments and more occurring over a twelve day period.

Interesting Facts/Historic Buildings and Places
The Homewood area was long home to the Fox Indians, who had a network of trails throughout what is now the Chicago Southland region. The first European settlers began to arrive here in the eighteen-thirties, traveling in along one of the primary Indian trails, then called the Vincennes Trail, which ran between Vincennes, Indiana and the mouth of the Chicago River.

Over time the trail developed two branches and one of these passed through what was to become Homewood to Blue Island. In 1853, a James Hart plotted out Homewood's downtown district, then to be called "Hartford". Later that year the Illinois Central Railroad laid tracks through Hart's subdivision and the station, called Thornton, soon became well used, with the Thornton Flour Mill establishing a mill here in 1856.

Increasing numbers of settlers arrived and most of these were Germans who cleared the prairie and planted wheat. When bringing their crops to the mill, wheat farmers patronized the business establishments of the expanding village, and so Thornton Station grew, becoming Homewood in 1869. The community was incorporated in 1893. The volunteer fire department was formed in 1901 and the police in 1904.

The Illinois Central Railroad's steam powered suburban train service terminated at Homewood in the eighteen-nineties, and the village became a popular golfing destination for Chicago businessmen. Many country clubs were built, and one of the finest, the Ravisloe Country Club, is still in operation today. Many of the elegant homes surrounding Ravisloe were built in these early days by wealthy businessmen who wanted a place to stay when they came down to play.

The prosperous twenties bought a building boom to Homewood as wealthy businesspeople relocated or built holiday homes here, and indoor plumbing became widespread. While the Great Depression bought an end to this period, Homewood was less hard hit than most and one of the local banks even managed to stay solvent.

In Homewood, as in the rest of south Chicago, the post WWII period was one of prolific suburban growth. Homewood managed to retain its "country town" feel in the midst of the new subdivisions going up, and still has an old time feel today.

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Updated: 19th November, 2018 5:52 AM.