Buffalo Grove's history is well known. It was incorporated in 1958, and the village received its name because a herd of buffalo grazed by the trees along Buffalo Creek.
But did you know that Buffalo Grove’s history is much older? According to Debbie Fandrei, the ’s coordinator, Buffalo Grove has an intriguing history. The Potawatomis once lived in the area. Settlers from New England arrived in the 1830s, and farmers from Germany arrived in the 1840s. “Until the 1950s, Buffalo Grove did well, but it wasn’t growing,” Fandrei said.
The following were the key factors that influenced Buffalo Grove’s early years as an incorporated village.
- The early years: At the time of its incorporation in 1958, Buffalo Grove’s population totaled 164 residents. At that time, Buffalo Grove Road was a small, two-lane street. The village had one general store, a tavern and a gas station.
- If you build it, they will come: The original subdivision, constructed by developer Al Frank, was built along Bernard Drive, west of Buffalo Grove Road. This area is commonly referred to as Old Buffalo Grove. “People were attracted to this new development because the homes were cheap in price,” Fandrei said. “The highways made it easier for people to commute to Chicago, and builders were looking for new areas to develop. Land to the north, south, and east had been developed, and the older generations of farmers were getting older and selling their land. This was the chance for Buffalo Grove to develop and build.”
- The bare necessities: Before a shopping center was built in the 1960s, “Residents had to travel to Wheeling or Arlington Heights for groceries and to see a doctor,” Fandrei said. “People wanted a grocery store before they wanted a fire department.”
By the 1960s, Buffalo Grove’s population would total more than 1,500 residents. The village had a young population as well; in 1964, over 90 percent of the residents were 40 years or younger. At that time, the average mortgage payment was $125.24 per month.
In the 1970s, Buffalo Grove received national exposure. The first time was when a python escaped from a residence, and the second was in 1976, when President Gerald Ford visited the village and spoke at .
The village’s population experienced a huge increase from the first residents in 1958. By 2010, , reflecting a decrease of about 3 percent from the population of 42,909 in 2000.
Currently, there are only a few buildings in Buffalo Grove that were constructed prior to the village’s incorporation.
, founded by German Catholic settlers, has seen several changes since it was built in 1899. “Until World War I, classes at St. Mary’s School were taught in German and English,” Fandrei said. “Church records were also recorded in German.”
One of the most drastic changes to the church was its expansion. Completed in 1978, a new 1,000-seat church was added to the existing chapel. The expansion was in response to the increase in parishioners.
“I remember when they built on to the church. Before the expansion, they had so many people attending Mass that the services were held in the school,” longtime Buffalo Grove resident Rae Pattarozzi said. Pattarozzi joined St. Mary Church in the late 1960s. At that time, St. Mary’s had even more open space than it has today, and the church organized picnics throughout the year.
Glimpses into Buffalo Grove’s history can also be seen in , which is located in what was once a creamery. “Dairy farmers would bring their milk to this creamery, where it would later be sold in Chicago,” Fandrei said. “It also served as a cheese factory, and the shell of the building remains today.”
was once a tavern called Bill's Buffalo House. “The wooden bar from the original tavern is still located inside the restaurant,” Fandrei said.