Located 29 miles Northwest of the Chicago Loop, and along the southern border of Lake County, the name Long Grove appears on early survey maps before 1840, when Easterner John Gridley settled along a small trail crossing deep in the area. By the early 1850’s, immigrant families who had split from the Roman Catholic parish in Buffalo Grove founded their own Saint Mary’s parish here, followed by an Evangelical Lutheran congregation about the same time. The Civil War and industrial opportunities in Chicago took away most of the Eastern families who had settled here, leaving a strong German immigrant presence that held onto the homeland language and customs until hostility to German culture during World War I forced assimilation.
The population growth of this community was slow, from 61 in 1870 to only 640 in 1960, mainly due to the fact that major area roads bypassed the country crossroad. Many of the young men who left to fight in World War II never returned and left family farms and furniture behind. When the Fanning family opened their Farmside store in 1947, they found that Chicagoans with money to spend were interested in acquiring antiques, so Long Grove established its reputation for the growing antiques trade through the initial efforts of the Fannings.
Developers took notice of the area in the early 1950’s, which drove area property owners to form an association to oppose major development plans. A village plat was designed that called for a 3 acre minimum lot size, to preserve the area’s historic character, and following a referendum in 1956, the village of Long Grove was incorporated. Around 1959, then village president, Robert Coffin, pushed to retain the village’s antique appearance through ordinances prohibiting neon signs as well as the presence of convenience and chain stores. This continues in the central “historic” district, while some leniency has occurred on the outskirts of the village.
Long Grove is known for its full schedule of festivals and concerts – they are among Chicagoland’s premier outdoor events. Chocolate Fest in May, Strawberry Festival in June and Apple Fest in October draw appreciative attendance, as do other outdoor music and ethnic feasts and events throughout the year. Activities continue right through the holiday season with music, winter activities and world-class shopping in the historic district.
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