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The Village of Winthrop Harbor's Official Tourism Site
A Brief History of Winthrop Harbor - A Chronology 

1829   
US Government signs a treaty agreeing to purchase what is present day
Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin from the Potowatomi, Chippewa,
and Ottawa Tribes, thus opening the area to white settlers.
Early  1830s
First settlers Nelson Landon and Jeremiah Stowell arrive to the area,
followed soon by their wives. They build their homes and raise families.
1837 
Reverend Salmon Stebbins arrives as the first minister (Methodist). His
daughter Emily opens the areas first school in her home.
1841 
The winter of 1841-1842 was severe, killing off much of the game and
livestock, resulting in famine.
1850 
Benton Township was formed. The first town meeting was held in a
building at the corner of Main Street (7th) and Park Avenue.
1854 
First mill constructed by Loren Sibley.
1855 
C&NW Railway completes its line, linking Chicago and Milwaukee.
1856 
J.A. Conelly builds a home (which still stands) on the southeast corner of
Sheridan Road and the Wisconsin State Line, where he operates a large farm.
1871 
First Post Office established with the name Spring Bluff. The name remains
for 20 years, until it is changed to Winthrop Harbor in 1891.
1883 
Developer J.H. Van Vlissengen purchases 2700 acres near the Wisconsin
State Line with the intent of developing an exclusive residential subdivision.
1888 
Spring Bluff School District is formed.
1890 
A two-story brick structure at 346 Sheridan Road opens as an inn and stage
stop. Inscribed in the foundation is “Hope This Will Be A Good House.”
The structure still stands today.
1899 
Van Vlissengen turns over his land to the Winthrop Harbor and Dock
Company, who plan development of an Industrial Park and Residential
Development on the lakefront.
1899 
First manufacturing, Simpson Manufacturing Corporation opens. Their
primary business is brick forming and handling machinery; they open a plant
on the north side of Main Street (7th), east of the railway.
A second manufacturer, Western Telephone Construction Company—a
builder of telephone boxes and switchboards, also locates along the railway.
Before the Great Depression, a robust retail environment exists in the area
along Sheridan Road, north of Main Street (7th). Many small businesses
exist, including a livery, blacksmith, hotel, bakery, restaurants, various retails
establishments, and even an A&P Grocery Store.
1901 
The Post Office moved to a new location on 3rd Street, along the railway. It
will later move to the corner of 7th Street and Sheridan Road before settling
in its current location in Harbor Plaza at Sheridan and 12th Street. TheVillage
 is incorporated on July 15, 1901. First Village Board Meeting is held
in an office at Main Street (7th) and Park Avenue.Village authorizes Chicago
 Telephone Company to begin service.
1902 
The Winthrop Harbor Dock Company donates its remaining holdings to the
Village. Austin Machinery Corporation, a heavy equipment manufacturer of 
ditching and trenching machinery, begins operation. They employ workers 
from as far away as Kenosha and Waukegan. Walters and Repko Marine 
Boiler Company, which builds steam engines for ships, constructs and 
operates two plants north of the Austin factory.
1904 
Property at Main Street (7th) and College Avenue is purchased and a single
story school is constructed. In 1915 a second story is added. This building,
with several additions, still stands as Spring Bluff School.
1905 
First water system installed with 60,000 gallon elevated storage tank on
Kirkwood Avenue. It was fed by a natural flowing well at 6th Street and
College Avenue. Water was delivered daily by a wagon cart with large
barrel. The Village later buys this facility from Byron Knight for $500 and
adds pumping equipment and water mains.
1909 
North Shore Railway (Interurban Electric Line) is authorized by the Village
to construct tracks, offering passenger service from Chicago to Milwaukee
and towns in between. The line closes in 1963.
1910-1913
Sometime within these years Andrew Carnegie met with Village Officials to
discuss a land purchase for a steel mill. No agreement could be reached so
Carnegie took his plans to Gary, Indiana.
1916 
Winther Motor Truck Company occupies the former Western Telephone
location and builds trucks for the military. After the war, they convert to
building automobiles, commercial trucks, and fire engines. In 1925 their
business fails and they close.
1918 
Sheridan Road is paved as a two-lane highway. It is later widened to four
lanes in 1973.
1919 
First local Boy Scout Troop is organized.
American Legion Post established.
Winthrop Harbor Volunteer Fire Department established.
1910 to 1920
Farming flourishes in the Village. Dairy farms, fox farms, mink ranches,
horse ranches, a chicken farm, a raspberry patch, and a nursery all prospered
during this time.
1920s 
Gordon Fire Works Company locates in the former Austin Machinery
building. This business is short lived and closes in 1930.
Monarch Lock Company locates to Sheridan Road between 4th and 5th Street,
but closes in 1923. At this time, the Village is losing its industrial base and turns
 its focus to becoming an exclusive residential community. Oak Shore Subdivision is 
planned north of Main Street (7th), between Lake Michigan and the railway.
 To the South of Main Street will be a golf course. This area is landscaped with 
sunken gardens, a marble plaza with a central monument, and ornamental shrubs. 
At its entrance stand two massive ornamental stone gates.
1922 
The Oak Shore developer erects two tall granite columns and ten marble
pillars along Main Street (7th). They remained for 48 years before being
taken down.
1926 
Johanson & Son Dairy begin operation at 3rd Street and the Railway.
1927 
Main Street (7th) is paved.
1930s 
Depression Era takes its toll on the Village. Manufacturing is gone and
unemployment is estimated to have reached 90% in the Village.
1936 
Village purchases its first park—500 feet of lakefront beach at a cost of
$8,000. Today this area is part of North Point Marina within Illinois Beach
State Park.
1939 
Population reaches 600 people.
1940s 
Lake Michigan rises and floods most of the area east of the railway.
Flooding continues into the early 1950s before subsiding.
1950
 Population has grown quickly to 1,765 people.
1954 
Sherman Shore Subdivision is established along the lakeshore north of Main
Street (7th). 140 home are built.
1956 
Village Hall and Police Station are constructed adjoining the Fire
Department on the west side of Sheridan Road between 8th and 9th Street.
1959 
Westfield School is constructed. Later additions are built in 1964 and 1969.
1961 
Winthrop Harbor’s own Jackie Bingert becomes Miss Illinois. Jackie was a
teacher at Westfield school.
1962 
Winthrop Harbor VFW is organized.
1970s 
The Village now has 44 businesses. The retail corridor experiences
somewhat of a rebirth.
1971 
State of Illinois, through its power of eminent domain, negotiates to purchase
or condemn 178 homes along the Winthrop Harbor lakefront. This land will
go on to become part of Illinois Beach State Park. As a result, the Village
and School District suffer a severe loss in tax revenues.
1976 
BFI opens a landfill site west of the Village. After three years of
negotitations, Winthrop Harbor loses a bid to annex the site, and a source of
tax revenue is lost to Zion.
1980 to 2010
Winthrop Harbor continues to slowly grow in population to just under 7,000
people.
Available land for development has decreased, as the Village becomes
landlocked between Lake Michigan and surrounding communities. Retail is
dispursed along a fifteen block stretch of Sheridan

For much more information see: A History of Winthrop Harbor, Illinois
By Julie Bostick Leech

For more history on Lake County and Winthrop Harbor you can check out http://lakecountyhistory.blogspot.com/, For an interesting story about Winthrop Harbor History read: 
http://lakecountyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/11/robert-h-aiken-tilt-up-construction.html
 From the Lake County Forest Preserve