Elmhurst’s Cherry Farm Grew Real Cherries

Elmhurst is made up of many different neighborhoods, some developed over a century ago. Here is the first in our new series, “Elmhurst Neighborhoods” that will look at some of these neighborhoods and how they contributed to the rich tapestry of Elmhurst’s diverse history.

ImageToday we will look at one of the oldest neighborhoods, Cherry Farm. In the 1830s, St. Charles Road was one of the busiest Illinois thoroughfares of the time. Travelers would ride horses or take coaches from their country homes in Galena on the Mississippi to Chicago. In 1849, the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad made its first trip west from Chicago making a stop at York Road. An enterprising Gerry Bates had traded the right-of-way with the railroad for locating a depot on his property. And thus Cottage Hill, later to be called Elmhurst, was born.

In 1851, John R Case, Sr. purchased 80 acres of land south of St Charles Road along York Street. In 1860, he moved to his new property, planted over 1000 Cherry Trees, and named his estate Cherry Farm.

From 1870 to 1880, Cherry Farm was a real working farm. During blossom time, people would come from miles around to spend the day admiring the flowers that fell like snow from the trees. At harvest time, German women would bring their children and pick cherries for 50 cents a bushel. Men would load the cherries onto horses, leave around midnight in order to arrive at South Water Street by 5:30 in the morning, just in time to sell their crops.

As the railroad grew, wealthy people moved into the area looking for a country setting away from the unpleasantness of the city. Sales brochures of the time spoke of a healthier atmosphere, better water and open spaces. The gentry that already lived in the area often encouraged friends and associates to get out of the city and move to Cottage Hill.

This time has been referred to as Elmhurst’s Gilded Age, where owners of the great estates of the day entertained prominent families from both Elmhurst and Chicago at garden parties, musicales, balls and amateur dramatic productions. One of these prominent estate owners was John R Case, Jr., who built “Orchard House,” named because of the apple orchards that had been planted.

Eventually the cherry farm closed and in 1907, John R Case, Jr laid out the Cherry Farm subdivision, south of St. Charles and east of York. Some of the original homes remain to this day as a testament to the glorious beginnings of Elmhurst.

There are currently six properties, with an additional two under contract, available in Cherry Farm. With prices ranging from $449,000 to $1,799,000, there is something for everyone. Here is the link to our new MLS Mapping Search tool if you’d like to see for yourself. Or contact an LW Reedy Agent for information on Cherry Farm or any of Elmhurst’s wonderful neighborhoods.

Residents of Cherry Farm are in the award winning Elmhurst School District 205 and would attend Edison Grade School, Sandburg Middle School and York High School. Click here for more information on those schools and links to school reports and more.

We want to gratefully acknowledge all of the time and assistance the good people at Elmhurst Historical Museum provided in researching Cherry Farm. They were, and will continue to be, an invaluable resource for this series.

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