Homewood Real Estate

    Central to Homewood’s evolution from a whistle-stop farming center to a substantial suburb of a large city is its location on the Illinois Central Railroad.  The area drains into the Calumet River.  Homewood lies in four townships – Bloom, Bremen, Rich, and Thornton.  It formally organized as a village in 1893.

    Immediately after federal surveyors marked the section lines around Homewood in 1834, settlers bought land and started farms.  In 1852, a year after the first store opened, the business district was platted as Hartford.  The next year, the Illinois Central Railroad commenced service with a stop called Thornton Station, because most passengers were traveling to or from nearby Thornton.  In 1869, the U.S. Postmaster General assented to a petition from local residents and officially changed the name to Homewood.

    Through the 19th century, the town grew slowly. Farmers shipped their produce to Chicago, and local business and some industry developed to serve their needs, including a flourmill that operated from 1856 into the 1880’s.

    In the 20th century, recreation began to draw visitors, some of whom became residents with the opening of 5 early golf clubs still in operation today: Flossmoor Country Club in neighboring Flossmoor (originally Homewood Country Club until 1914); Ravisloe; Idlewild in Flossmoor; Olympia Fields in Olympia Fields; Calumet (originally organized in Chicago but relocated to Homewood in 1917.  The Illinois Central offered special scheduled and created special stops for golfers.  That was the origin of the stops that became Calumet, Flossmoor, and Olympia Fields.  The railroad attracted more new residents in both towns by selling real estate in Floosmoor, and in 1926, by electrifying its commuter service.

    Relatively little direct benefit accrued from another recreation attraction, Washington Park Race Track, which opened in 1926 on the ground west of Halsted St just outside the village bounds.  Few of the horse racing aficionados who patronized the track shopped or ate in Homewood, because the Illinois Central built a spur line so passengers could ride directly between Chicago and the track.  During the Great Depression, the Illinois Jockey Association helped Homewood pay for infrastructure built during the optimistic, prosperous 1920’s.  Washington Park went out of business after its grandstand burned in 1977; in 1992 Homewood bought the site and turned it into a commercial and retail development.

    In the postwar period, Homewood and Flossmoor established instituional partnerships.  Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School opened its doors in 1959, and a join park district was incorporated in 1969.

    The Great Depression and World War II merely slowed growth.  By the 1970’s Homewood had become a virtual bedroom for Chicago.  In 1967, Homewood and Flossmoor formed one of only three outlaying suburban zones where half or more of the workers commuted to jobs in Chicago and that trend continued into the 21st century.