Village of Mundelein History
The Village of Mundelein boasts a long and rich history. It was first inhabited by the Potowatami Indians. As early as 1650, these
native Americans were trading with the French fur traders. Nearly two centuries later, the first settlers moved into the area now
known as Mundelein. The first known settler was Peter Shaddle, who built a log cabin on what is now the grounds of St. Mary of the
Lake Seminary in 1835.
A group of English emigrants came to the area to escape the industrial depression occurring in England. These tradesmen became
farmers and named their new community "Mechanics Grove" after the life they left behind. They built churches and schools, and
expanded the settlement to the Diamond Lake area.
During this expansion, a man by the name of John Holcomb purchased a great deal of land in the area, and became active in the
leadership of the rapid development of the area. In his honor, the unincorporated community changed its name to "Holcomb."
The area of "Holcomb" continued to grow, and gained a railroad station and a post office. In February, 1909, the Holcomb area
incorporated under the name of "Rockefeller" in honor of railroad magnate John D. Rockefeller. Rumor has it that Mr. Rockefeller
himself stopped the train on its way through town, and took a brief look around at the new village named after him.
Rockefeller boasted grain elevators, various stores and hotels, and all of the amenities of a small but active town. It didn't
keep the new name very long, however. In July, 1909, the village changed its name to "Area." Arthur Sheldon, an educational
entrepreneur in town, bought 600 acres to build a school for sales techniques. His sales program attracted a peak of 10,000
students, including many women, which was unusual for the times. The school flourished for a few years, and made such an impact
on the town that they accepted Sheldon's request to rename the newly incorporated Village to "Area," an acronym for his sales
school philosophy, "Ability, Reliability, Endurance, and Action."
After a few years, Sheldon's school folded. In 1921, Archbishop (soon to be Cardinal) George Mundelein of Chicago, bought the
property and authorized the construction of St. Mary's of the Lake Seminary. The campus cost $10 million to construct. To this
day, the campus remains a seminary and religious retreat for the Catholic Church, and has facilities for up to 400 students.
In 1926, the 28th International Eucharist Conference, which was held at the seminary, brought an estimated 500,000 people to
the Village of 500 people. The village changed its name again in 1924 in recognition of Cardinal Mundelein's success with the
new seminary. In thanks, the Cardinal donated the Village its first new fire truck upon completion of the Village Hall in 1929.
The current Village Hall, with a few additions, is the same structure today that was built in 1929.
The following decades brought business and industry to the Village of Mundelein. Along with its business growth, Mundelein has
grown in population.
Continuing the history of strong citizen participation and business growth, the Village of Mundelein looks forward to adding
great new chapters to its history in the decades to come. The Board of Trustees of the Village of Mundelein is committed to
providing services to the community which ensure maintenance of its rich traditions and high quality of life for all who live
and work in the community.