History of Mundelein

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original village hall

Incorporated in 1909, the Village of Mundelein boasts a long and rich history. It has grown from a small farming community to a vibrant township and business center in the heart of Lake County Illinois. Now home to nearly 32,000 residents, Mundelein was first inhabited by the Potawatomi 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. 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."

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. In 1924, the Village changed its name again in recognition of Cardinal Mundelein's success with the new seminary. To express his gratitude, the Cardinal donated to the Village its first new fire truck upon completion of the Village Hall in 1929. This building remained Mundelein's Village Hall until the year 2014, when the current structure was built.

The following decades brought industries and thriving business to the Village of Mundelein. Along with its business growth, Mundelein has grown in population.

Continuing the history of strong citizen participation coupled with strong economic 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 are 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 Village of Mundelein.

1929 Village Hall Dedication
1900 Fire Equipment
1955 MFD
1960's Seymour
First House
Gordon Ray-Ice Cream Parlor
Hardins Hotel
Holcombs School
Ice Plow
Mechanics Grove School
Mundelein Post Office Lake Street
Park St west
Park St west_0
Toboggan Hill
Train Depot-Area001
Train Depot-Rockefeller