Winnetka Neighborhoods: Forest Glen

Gazette Article by: Nancy Elmer, Audrey Loewenthal and Penny Pirsein
Appeared in the Gazette: Fall 2004

Forest Glen is a unique community within the larger community of Winnetka. It includes 57 houses, all two-story, and almost all colonial in style. The entrances at Forest Glen East and West are defined by pillars, and the approximately 20 acres are located north of the intersection of Tower and Hibbard Roads.

The history of Forest Glen pre-dates World War II. In the 1920s and 1930s, Winnetka was a popular summer destination for wealthy Chicago families. For example, the Thomas and Virginia Dennehy family, who were the original owners of the estate and mansion which became Forest Glen, brought their seven children to Winnetka from Chicago for the summer. The family enjoyed traditional activities such as croquet on the lawn and a July 4th clambake and fireworks display.

Some of the acreage was devoted to stables, and the family enjoyed horseback riding. A large greenhouse housed the indoor swimming pool and an exotic plant collection. In 1939, this heavily-wooded estate was sold by the Dennehys to the prominent North Shore architect and builder, C.A. Hemphill and Associates. Homes in the west section of the Glen were built between 1939 and December 1941. All building then ceased during the War until late 1945 when the homes on the east side lots were built.

The location of Forest Glen has appealed to homeowners throughout the years. It is three blocks to Hubbard Woods stores and restaurants and the Northwestern train station. It is a short walk to Hubbard Woods Elementary School on Chatfield and to Sacred Heart Catholic church at Tower Road and Burr Avenue, and Sacred Heart Catholic School on Gage Street. Today the Glen continues to be home to owners who enjoy the sense of freedom and safety conferred by the design of Forest Glen, laid out as a square encompassing Forest Glen East, West, North and South.

Friendliness and a genuine feeling of neighborliness have been the continuing cornerstones of Forest Glen. Although the faces have changed through the years, Forest Glen’s welcoming spirit remains. Residents tend to buy their homes with the purpose of raising and educating their children and living in their homes a long time. Traditionally, two neighborhood parties are given each year—a block party in the early fall and a holiday party for the ladies of the Glen every December. The neighborhood has a directory of the families, complete with children’s names and ages, which is published every fall. This sense of sociability is the outgrowth of the once popular and traditional Winnetka neighborhood circles. This comfortable neighborhood is indeed very special!

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