Olympia Fields Real Estate

    The village of Olympia Fields developed from the Olympia Fields Country Club, for which it was named.  Bounded roughly by Vollmer Rd, 211st (Rt. 30 or Lincoln Hwy), Crawford/Pulaski Ave, and the eastern border of Western Ave, the village lies almost entirely within Rich Township.

    From 1890 – 1913, Elliott’s Amusement Park was a big draw for Chicago patrons, occupying several acres northwest of where the Illinois Central Railroad crosses Lincoln Hwy.  With that exception, the landscape before the 20th century development was predominantly farmland and woods.

    Investors became attracted by the successes of the country clubs in nearby Flossmoor and Homewood in 1913 and began buying land for a new club.  That club opened its first golf course in 1916.  The club hosted the U.S. Open in 1928 and 2003.  Golf was so popular before the Great Depression that the Illinois Central scheduled “golf specials” from Chicago to Olympia Fields and other clubs.

    An elite residential community centered on the club was part of the original investors’ vision.  Some families moved to the club for the summer and lived in canvas-covered “cottages”, forerunners of the year-round homes on the ground today.  Residential lots on the western side of the tracks first sold in 1919, and by 1923, the Green revival-style station at Olympia Fields was a regular stop for commuter trains.  Population, however, remained slight.  According to local lore, village incorporation was achieved in 1927 by counting railroad workers temporarily housed in cars on a nearby siding to meet the population minimum of 150.

    The stock market crash of 1929 and the subsequent depression smothered growth until after World War II.  In 1944, the club sold two gold courses for residential development.  Relatively few new residents joined the club, but the standards of an affluent, elite community have persisted.  A mid-1950’s ordinance was designed to make sure no two houses would look alike.  Population surged from 160 in 1950 to 1,503 in 1960 and 3,478 in 1970, suppored by anneations west of Kedzie Ave.

    Instituational development followed closely with Tolentine Center opening in 1958, originally an Augustinian seminary and now the order’s regional headquarters, Rich Central High school opened in 1961, United Methodist Church and Temple Anshe Sholom opened in 1964.  As population gew, institutions kept pace.  St. James Hopspital (originally Osteopathic Medical Center) opened in 1976, as did the First Baptist and Assumption Greek Orthodox churches.  Modest retail and commercial development, chiefly around the intersection of Lincoln Hwy and Western Ave, has been continuous since the 1950’s.