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History of Green Oaks

There were many barriers to the early settlement of the area to the east of the Des Plaines River that is today known as Green Oaks. The dense forest had to be cut and the swamps drained in order to begin pioneer farming here, and the dense clay soil broke many a Yankee wrought iron plowshare. The wolves played havoc with livestock in the fall and winter, and the only “roads” were a few Indian trails parallel to the river. Land was still available at $1.25 an acre as Irish immigrants moved in during the 1840’s.
One of the earliest settlers was Thomas Madden, who bought some land about three miles east of the river in the year 1844. His house stood just about where the Milwaukee Road railroad tracks pass under Buckley Road. At the time, it was called Madden Road. It ran inland from Lake Michigan and was nothing more than a footpath. It was on Madden Road that Thomas Madden donated property for a new school in 1850. madden school was used for many years but in1919 the Directors realized that they needed a new, more modern school. On November 12, 1923 a new school was opened called the Oak Grove School and at that time served as the only school east of the river in Libertyville. Our present day Oak Grove School was opened in 1957.
When the “Village Of Oak Grove” changed its name and founded Green Oaks in 1960, all 150 residents attended the celebration dinner. At its inception, the Village was founded as a municipal barrier to intense urban and industrial expansion Of neighboring areas. Meanwhile, the population within the 12 square mile village increased by 1000% from 1960-1985, and it is projected to grow steadily in the next 15 years. Controlling growth continues to be a challenge in maintaining a high quality of life in Green Oaks. Listed in the Planning Commission’s General Policies and Objectives is the promise to strive to protect “the opportunity to live in an open countryside environment.”
From the beginning, Village ordinance has provided for a pattern of one, two, and five acre lot residential zoning and strict standards over environmentally sensitive lands. It was with foresight that William D. Shaw, the first president of the Village Board Trustees stated in 1960 that “the village is not prey for the selfish real estate interests bent on building shanty towns, but strives instead to be a community of high merit.”