Winnetka’s Earliest Businesses

Model of the Patterson Tavern (later the Garland Tavern) made by Frank Windes, c. 1940.

Winnetka’s First Business: The Patterson Tavern

In 1836, early Winnetka settlers Erastus and Zernah Patterson opened the Patterson Tavern, a wayside tavern where travelers along the stagecoach route could purchase a meal or rest overnight. When Erastus died in 1837, Zernah took over the business, making the Patterson Tavern both Winnetka’s first business and first woman-owned business. Read more about this historic business venture. CLICK HERE!

View Winnetka Story documentary video clip HERE!


Replica of the Kinney Store made by Frank Windes, c. 1940.

The Kinney Store

Winnetka’s first trading post, the Kinney Store, was opened by early Winnetka settler Joel Kinney at 482 Linden in 1854. In addition to selling a variety of necessary dry goods, the tiny trading post building also served as the local post office. Learn more about the history of the Kinney Store and how the store building survived in various forms until 1932. CLICK HERE!


The Moth General Store, c. 1880.

The Graves, Moth & Meyer General Stores

In 1855, Riley M. Graves opened a general store on the northwest corner of Elm Street and Green Bay Road. In 1875, Robert S. Moth took over the Graves store, renaming the business the Moth General Store. That same year, Moth hired thirteen-year-old Max Meyer to help out around the store. Seven years later, Meyer, along with his partner Frank Gage, purchased the store and renamed it the Max Meyer Store. To learn more about this early business, CLICK HERE!

And to learn more about Max Meyer’s lasting legacy in Winnetka, CLICK HERE!


Advertisement for Thomas and Zel Windes’ real estate business, 1896.

Developing Early Winnetka:
The Windes Family Businesses

Few have impacted the structural development of Winnetka more than the Windes family. They first arrived in Winnetka in 1879 when Cook County judge and real estate expert Thomas Windes purchased the house at 530 Cherry Street. Shortly after, Thomas and his son Zel opened a real estate business in the Village. Both Zel and his brother Frank continued to work in real estate, yet only Frank stayed and worked in Winnetka for the rest of his life. To learn more about the Windes family’s legacy in Winnetka, CLICK HERE!

And to learn why Frank Windes came to be known as “Mr. Winnetka,” CLICK HERE!

View Winnetka Story documentary video clip HERE!

Nelson Brothers Laundry

The North Shore Laundry, Winnetka’s first commercial laundry, was founded in 1896 by Swedish immigrant brothers Eric and Gustaf Nelson. First located in the Richardson’s Livery building near the southwest corner of Elm Street and Maple, the Nelson’s hired architect and engineer Frank Windes to design their new building on Elm near Chestnut in 1900. The laundry was such a success that the Nelson brothers built the current Laundry building at 566 Chestnut in 1925. Learn more about this historic business and the Laundry building’s incredible survival story. CLICK HERE!

The second location of the Nelson’s North Shore Laundry, c. 1900.

Advertisement for Zengeler’s Cleaner’s, 1930.

Zengeler’s Cleaners

While Zengeler’s has only been open on the North Shore since 1925, the family has been operating a cleaning and dying company in the Chicago area since 1857. Amazingly, Zengeler’s is still open today. Read more about this historic business in an article from the Winnetka Talk’s 60th anniversary publication from 1930. CLICK HERE!

Photo Gallery:

Scroll through the gallery to see advertisements for and images of some of Winnetka’s earliest businesses. CLICK HERE!

Lindwall Upholstering, c. 1893.

Osgood Real Estate, c. 1890.

Rudolph Bros. Grocery, 1897.

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